Senate Votes to Deny Newly Arrived Children Court Hearings

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Children fleeing gang violence will no longer even so much as have a hearing.
Children fleeing gang violence will no longer even so much as have a hearing.

The Senate approved non-binding language for its budget bill on Thursday calling for newly arrived children from Central American to lose their right to a day in court. Conservatives are pushing to repeal anti-human trafficking laws that protect children fleeing forced prostitution and gang violence. John McCain, once an immigration moderate, led the charge towards closing the door to due process for children.

Analysts say that the Senate may be within two votes of passing legislation that would end the American tradition of according the victims of modern day slavery a chance to be heard. The House of Representatives has before it a variety of proposals both to restrict legal protections for the children and to prohibit any Federal funds being used for their defense.

As it is, the problems of representing the children are enormous. A new report says that 7,700 of the children have already been ordered deported, largely because they could not get lawyers and failed to go to court. The “fast-tracking” of the cases by the immigration courts has created a representation crisis as immigrant legal services groups, always poorly funded, have been overwhelmed and understaffed.


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