Posted: Jul 16, 2014 6:57 PM
Updated: Jul 16, 2014 6:57 PM
WESLACO - A new report sheds some light into the plight unaccompanied minors experience in the immigration court system.
The report done by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse revealed that one factor alone may tip the scales in the children's favor.
The organization collects monthly statistics from immigration courts and provides a snapshot of how the courts are working.
To get the clearest picture, the group excluded unaccompanied minors from Mexico, since they're usually deported almost immediately and don't see a judge at all.
For those who do get to see a judge, the success rate jumps when the minors have the help of an attorney.
Minors with an attorney are allowed to remain in the United States nearly 50 percent of the time. For minors without an attorney, that number drops to 10 percent.
Immigration Attorney Anthony Martinez said he's not surprised.
"What could possibly an 8- or 9-year-old be able to stand up and say in front of the judge? It would be a very daunting task," Martinez said.
There are several ways minors may be able to stay in the United States, in addition to asylum. There are visas for children who have been abused, abandoned or victimized.
Martinez said without attorneys to make their case, minors are sent back into danger.
"It strikes me as rather cruel to send somebody to their death when they're only 10 years old and haven't even known what it is like to live," the attorney said.
Even if there's no chance of success, Martinez said speeding up the process isn't the answer.
"Let them have their hearing, let them be represented and if, at the end, they get deported, we've given them a fair shake," he said.
The White House has asked for many more attorneys and judges to help with the 53,000 new cases that have come in this year alone. The money has yet to be freed up. The very latest numbers show a rise in the number of minors who are allowed to stay.
For those with an attorney, the number's risen to two-thirds. For those without an attorney, the number's risen to 25 percent. That's only for minors who have arrived very recently.