Dem rep demands legal aid for immigrant children

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) vowed Monday to fight for the thousands of immigrant children seeking asylum in the United States.

“These children have endured serious risks in traveling to the United States, even death, on a journey of hundreds of miles,” Clarke said in a statement. “I will work with my colleagues and the Department of Justice to fulfill our responsibilities under the Constitution, to provide each child with full legal representation.”

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Clarke said she was concerned that some of the nearly 50,000 unaccompanied children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala detained along the U.S.-Mexico border are being denied access to legal counsel.

“As a society, we share a commitment to due process under law,” Clarke said. “We cannot in good conscience deny critical legal services to these children — many of whom are eligible to apply for asylum in the United States based on the threat of violence.”

Under a 2008 human trafficking law, the immigrant children can seek refugee status at their immigration hearing, but before Congress's August recess, House Republicans voted to amend that law in order to expedite deportation of the children.

The White House asked for $3.7 billion to provide legal services and to temporarily house and feed the children, but lawmakers failed to act before leaving town for five weeks.

Clarke said Republicans refused to allocate resources for attorneys to advise the children.

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