Immigration Committee Members Call for Due Process for Border Kids in Op-Ed

A post published today on the Huffington Post, by the chair of the City Bar’s Immigration & Nationality Law Committee, Lenni Benson, along with the two co-chairs of the Subcommittee on the Right to Counsel and Due Process for Migrants, Farrin R. Anello and Michael D. Cooper, addresses “the refugee crisis unfolding on our southern border.” The piece argues that the crisis is not about disrespect for the law, or lack of enforcement, as some have suggested. “These children are not eluding authorities; they are seeking out authorities. They have come here not to evade U.S. law, but rather to embrace U.S. law and the protection it offers to victims of persecution, human trafficking and torture,” the post states. The authors push back against what they see as an emerging consensus “between the White House and Congress to diminish the protection and due process rights of children.” Rather, under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, and with evidence that nearly 60 percent of children entering the U.S. may have a valid claim to international protection, due process requires that we determine who among these kids has a valid right to stay here, they write. That task is easier said than done: “[P]arsing through a child’s case is no easy task, especially when the child is a victim of serious crime, or sexual or domestic abuse, or has grown up surrounded by extreme violence, or suffers from shock or trauma.” The authors propose that the best way to get to the bottom of each child’s case, and to resolve the overall crisis, would be to provide government-appointed counsel to these children. And the authors cite recent research from the economic consulting firm NERA that shows that “the savings to the Federal government from detention, foster-care and transportation outlays alone would pay for most if not all of the cost of providing lawyers.” Read the full piece on the Huffington Post here.