A new report from the Los Angeles Times says that as many as one-in-five children killed in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula since February were recent deportees from the United States. The fact that so many children are being deported so rapidly, often without a meaningful opportunity to present their case to an immigration judge, means that children whose families have already been targeted by the gangs are being sent to their death.
The rush to short circuit legal protections even more will only lead to greater tragedies. We know that many of these children will be killed, but too many politicians apparently believe that the deaths of other people’s children is a price that they are willing to pay for political gain. So, we are seeing proposals in Congress to reduce even the slim due process protections that the children are currently entitled to.
The children who are coming are very young. The average age is about 12 here on Long Island. The new practice in the immigration courts is compounding the problems we would expect by fast-tracking their deportation hearings. This new so-called “Rocket Docket” reduces the likelihood that the children will secure legal representation and, if they find a lawyer, that they will be able to develop their claims to protection from possible persecution.
In a country that values fairness and due process we have to decide whether we will live up to our values and treat these children with respect and dignity.