Children as young as 1-year-old are being forced to appear in front of immigration judges, according to The Associated Press.
A 1-year-old baby boy, known as Johan, appeared in an Arizona immigration court on Friday, July 6; his father had already been deported to Honduras.
The law requires judges to ask defendants in the immigration courts if they understand the proceedings. As the year-old infant looked at him, Judge John W. Richardson expressed his discomfort with asking the boy if he understood the court proceedings.
“I’m embarrassed to ask it, because I don’t know who you would explain it to, unless you think that a 1-year-old could learn immigration law,” Richardson told the boy’s lawyer. The boy played with a ball during the first part of his hearing and “cried hysterically” toward the end of the session. Johan allegedly waited for over an hour to see the judge.
Johan was granted a voluntary departure order so he could be flown to Honduras and reunited with his father.
When Richardson asked another child about his age the same day, the boy silently raised five fingers.
Children under five separated from their families under the Trump administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy are supposed to be reunified with their parents by July 10.
Richardson expressed concern over whether the government would be able to meet this reunification deadline set by a federal judge.
According to The Huffington Post, lawyers for Health and Human Services requested an extension on that deadlineJuly 6, arguing the government shouldn’t be responsible for reunification for children whose parents had been deported. Judge Dana Sabraw granted a hearing for extensions for cases where it is deemed necessary.
“The government must reunite, it must comply with the time frame, unless there’s an articulable reason,” Sabraw said.
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