In Search of Best Practice
Edited by Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson
Chapter 17: Procedure deficits in protection for immigrant children in the United States
In theory, United States immigration statutes offer many forms of protection and integration to foreign national youth. In practice, however, the ability of young people to access relevant special visa categories is frustrated by process barriers and the lack of adequate information and skilled counsel. Under US law, migrant children may seek protection as refugees; they may qualify for permanent residence if they have been abandoned, abused or neglected by a parent; they may be protected if victims of crimes or trafficking. In this chapter, we explore whether US domestic legal systems protect children’s procedural rights. We note at the outset that the US Constitution has been applied consistently to protect both citizen and foreign-born children with regard to fundamental rights such as education, safety and criminal punishment. Between October 2010 and October 2016, the US government initiated 177,561 removal or deportation cases against children. Of these, 41 per cent or 73,013 cases remained pending in mid-2017. This suggests that children are given time and process in removal proceedings. In this chapter we examine some of the reasons why ‘due process’ does indeed require time, as we explore measures that would greatly reduce the procedural protections that have been available.
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