Dozens of infants ordered to appear in immigration court: report

Dozens of infants ordered to appear in immigration court: report
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At least 70 children under the age of 1 have been ordered before immigration judges since last October, some without any form of legal representation present, according to newly released government data.

Information from the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported by the Texas Tribune on Wednesday states that the number of infants summoned before immigration judges tripled in 2017 compared to the previous year.

A total of 1,500 "unaccompanied" children ages 3 and younger have been ordered before immigration judges since October 2015, the Tribune reported, citing DOJ data provided by Kaiser Health News.

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About three-fourths of those children had legal representation, while the remainder only had access to a list of legal aid attorneys their caregiver can contact. In some cases, young children appear before judges with little to no knowledge of their situation or where their families are, the report noted.

While officials said many children under the age of 1 come into the U.S. with a parent and their case proceeds together, some of the children arrived in the U.S. without their parents or legal guardians, according to the Tribune.

Others were only deemed to be "unaccompanied" minors after being separated by their parents under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" border policy, which prioritized prosecuting all illegal border crossers.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE signed an executive order last month to end the separation of families at the border, and his administration has been working to reunite affected families after thousands of young children were separated from adults.

“This is to some extent a ... crisis of the creation of the government,” Robert Carey, the former head of the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement, told the Tribune. “It’s a tragic and ironic turn of events.”

One immigration attorney based in Virginia noted to the Tribune that many children are unaware that they face life-threatening situations in their home country.

“Think about it as a parent. You’re not going to tell your child they might be killed, right?” Eileen Blessinger told the newspaper. “A lot of the kids don’t know.”

Asylum claim denials, according to the data, are at an all-time high of 42 percent.

Earlier this month the Trump administration issued guidance ending asylum claims for migrants fleeing domestic abuse or gang-related violence, a move that was heavily criticized by immigrant rights activists.

“The Trump administration just handed a death sentence to thousands of women and families fleeing domestic and gang violence by barring them from accessing asylum in the U.S.," Jess Morales Rocketto, political director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said in June.