***We published this article about two years ago, and — unfortunately — it seems time to do it again. Keep in mind that references to time are from 2016.*
According to the Child Development Institute, a 3-year-old child should not be able to make clear decisions but should still be able to use short sentences and experience sorrow. According to Stanley Coren, a canine expert at the University of British Columbia, dogs have better language comprehension than 2-year-olds and are better at math than most 4-year-olds.
And, according to Judge Jack H. Weil, 3- and 4-year olds can easily represent themselves in immigration court.
Weil is clearly an expert on this since he claims to have trained a few toddlers just enough about immigration law to represent themselves in court before getting deported.
Maybe Mr. Weil is also a little too influenced by television and YouTube videos that feature really young kids doing extraordinary things. Kids who spell like Noah Webster, play Gershwin better than Bernstein and crunch numbers faster than a Ph.D. in Chisenbop.
But this isn’t a joke or an audition for “Little Big Shots.” Weil is one of the bigwigs in the Executive Office for Immigration Review and helps the agency set policy for all the immigration courts in the country. He’s totally fine with the fact that, in 2015, 42% of the 20,000 toddlers facing immigration courts had to represent themselves. So how is this playing out?
ThinkProgress recently accompanied a 12-year-old border crosser to court (not Weil’s court) and reported that: “The judge asked questions involving various legal jargon like ‘deportation’ and ‘Special Immigrant Juvenile Status,’ a special form of immigration relief for children. Without the legal representative present, it’s unlikely that the shy middle schooler could have answered the questions on her own. As one [rare] pro bono lawyer for the children observed, some children carried teddy bears for comfort, while another ‘wet his pants when he faced the judge’”.
The real problem here is that there’s a loophole in the law. Kids facing immigration court are not guaranteed an appointed attorney, even though they’re up against attorneys for the Department of Homeland Security.
In March of this year, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid introduced a bill to close this loophole. He stated for the record that: “[…] a little girl was clutching a doll. She was so short she could barely see over the table to the microphone. She sat there before a robed immigration judge, with a trial attorney from the Department of Homeland Security on the other side of the chamber, in effect, saying: Send her back. She was unable to answer any questions that the judge asked her except for the name of her doll: `Baby Baby Doll.’ That was the name of her doll. But this is the worst part. This small child was expected to make a case of why she should be granted asylum under U.S. immigration laws.”
Reid’s bill won’t go anywhere, of course, because Democrats aren’t allowed to introduce ideas to Congress. (That’s why they’re called the minority party.) This is a problem only a Republican can solve.
And the only solution is to elect Donald Trump. He wants to build a wall, doesn’t want Americans to pay for it, is perfectly happy with shoddy work, wants to create jobs and really doesn’t have a problem with child labor.
So throw away the building blocks and get out your blocking chisels and trowels little brown kids. You’re going to stay! And America’s got an assignment for you.
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