speaking her own language and wearing traditional clothing. Her teachers
allowed the harassment to take place.
Local officials would not intervene,
allowing the harassment to escalate to
the point where local “security groups”
threw rocks at her house and then came
looking for her and her family, wielding
machetes and clubs. Next, they cut off
the water to her house; the government
official who came to turn the water back
on was kidnapped and held for ransom.
When the local non-indigenous boys
threatened to beat and rape her she fled
to the U.S. seeking refuge.
We Give Them Hope
We, as a matter of public policy, have
enacted laws that allow these children to
safely remain in the United States if they
can show they meet certain requirements.
The most common forms of immigration relief are special immigrant juvenile
(SIJ) status and asylum status. (These
children are not eligible for help through
the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—but then again no
relief may be available to anyone under
DACA in six months as the current
administration has stated it is terminating that program.) Children who are
eligible under either of these classifications may legally remain in the U.S. and
can later apply for lawful permanent
residency and even citizenship. For a
child to have SIJ status a court must
determine that he or she is kept from
reuniting with at least one parent because of abuse, abandonment, or neglect
and that reunification or return to the
home country is not in the child’s best
interest. In contrast, asylum is granted
to children who are fleeing from or who
fear persecution because of their race,
religion, nationality, political opinion,
or association with a particular social
group. Other less common options are
the U visa, which can be granted only to
victims of certain crimes, and the T visa,
for victims of human trafficking.
But that hope vanishes pretty quick-
ly if no lawyer is there to help.
Five times— that is the increase in
the likelihood of a child being able to
remain in the U.S. and to not be sent
back to their country of origin if they
have a lawyer representing them. But
you know the drill: The government
gives them the right to have an attorney
help them through the process but
doesn’t give them such an attorney.
And you know as well as I that legal
rights without having legal representa-
tion aren’t worth a whole lot.
Contrary to the views held by at
least one immigration judge, these kids
need lawyers. You remember in 2016
when Judge Jack Weil made headlines
by testifying that three- and four-year-
olds can be taught immigration law?
“I’ve taught immigration law literally
to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds,” Weil
said. All I can say is that Judge Weil’s
kids must have been remarkable at ages
three and four because most kids at
that age are reaching their milestones
if they are learning to cooperate with
KIDS WHO SHOULD
BE AT HOME PLAYING
GAMES ARE TRAVELING
CLOSE TO 2,000 MILES
IN SEARCH OF SAFETY...
THERE'S ONLY ONE
THREAT THAT MAKES
THIS RISK RATIONAL:
THE ODDS OF BEING
RAPED OR KILLED
ARE EVEN GREATER IF
THEY STAY HOME.