There has been a recent influx of minor children traveling over the southern border of the United States. Additionally, there has been a backlash against keeping them detained in centers in the U.S. instead of shipping them immediately back over the border. However, many people are misinformed about what rights can be granted to them. The law for undocumented minors is very different than that for undocumented adults, and they also face unique trials that their adult counterparts often can avoid.
Protections Granted to Children
The current wave of undocumented minors coming over the border is not in fact comprised of Mexicans, for the most part; a large portion of these undocumented minors are in fact from points further south like Honduras and El Salvador. They are fleeing poverty and gang violence, and many of them were sent ahead by their parents because uncertainty is better than what they perceive as certain death.
However, the protections granted to children in the U.S. are simply not sufficient to guarantee a basic level of human rights. In 1959, the United Nations passed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This human rights treaty attempts to explicitly set out a list of rights to be afforded to all children and makes the point that because they are children, their rights are at an increased risk of being taken away; they have very little agency to advocate themselves. However, the United States remains one of only two countries that has not ratified the UNCRC (the other is Somalia).
Because of the failure to ratify UNCRC, unaccompanied minors essentially have no legal rights in the United States. In 2005, the Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act was passed, which prohibited extreme invasive searches or the housing of juveniles in adult facilities if they had not exhibited criminal behavior. Still, this is often unenforced and fails to remedy real deficits. Unaccompanied minors are not entitled to counsel, and may not even be provided with an interpreter or tools to help them understand what is happening to them. Kate Englund from the University of Chicago recounts the case of a Guatemalan boy who was deported even though he had an aunt in the U.S. who was a citizen and willing to care for him. When he returned to Guatemala, he was murdered by a gang he tried to flee.
On July 2, three busloads of children were being sent to a processing center in Southern California. They were blockaded in the town of Murrieta by protesters waving American flags and carrying signs that read “Stop Illegal Immigration.” This could have been avoided with better information; children must be processed before their fates are decided.
Contact an Attorney for Help
At Mevorah Law Offices LLC, we do our best to inform our clients of what is true and what is false. If you or a loved one needs help as an undocumented minor, or you know someone who does, please contact our DuPage County immigration lawyers today.
Whether you are going through a divorce, injured in an accident, need to file a workers' compensation claim, charged with a crime, immigrating to the United States, or need to file for bankruptcy, Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help. Our trial lawyers have over 40 years of experience helping clients throughout Northern Illinois from five offices in Lombard, Bloomindale, Naperville, St. Charles, and Chicago.
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