CGRS Expresses Support for the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) applauds Senator Mazie Hirono and her co-sponsors, including Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California, for reintroducing the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act. This important bill would ensure access to government appointed counsel for unaccompanied children in immigration court proceedings.

Most unaccompanied children who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border are fleeing horrific violence and persecution in Central America. These children endure tremendous hardship on their journey north, hoping to find safe haven in the United States. But unfortunately, unaccompanied children are not guaranteed legal counsel in immigration proceedings, and many are forced to navigate our complex immigration system alone. Children as young as three appear in immigration court unrepresented and are expected to fight their deportation opposite a trained government attorney.

Legal representation makes a critical difference for unaccompanied children facing deportation; a child who is represented by an attorney is five times more likely to win her case than a child who appears in court alone. The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act would ensure that all children have a meaningful opportunity to present claims for immigration relief and prevent the deportation of refugee children to dangerous conditions in their home countries.

In recent months the Trump Administration has mischaracterized unaccompanied children as criminals exploiting “loopholes,” shamefully vilifying vulnerable kids who are entitled to protection under both U.S. and international law. In this hostile climate, it is imperative that we support unaccompanied children and do all we can to uphold their due process rights. The reintroduction of the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act represents a significant step in the right direction. CGRS commends Senator Hirono and the bill’s co-sponsors for standing with unaccompanied children.