This judge says toddlers can defend themselves in immigration court

Judge Jack H. Weil
Department of Justice
Office of the Chief Immigration Judge

The Los Angeles Times reports: A federal immigration judge believes migrant toddlers can defend themselves in court, according to a deposition in a court case brought by advocates seeking government-appointed attorneys for the youths.

“I’ve taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience,” Judge Jack Weil said. “They get it. It’s not the most efficient, but it can be done.”

The startling statement from Weil, a Virginia-based judge responsible for training his peers, comes at a time when the number of young unaccompanied migrants crossing the southern border has sharply risen.

In immigration court, there is no guarantee of counsel for adults or children. Advocates for immigrants have long argued that a person’s ability to make informed decisions — and their chances of being allowed to stay in the U.S. — are enhanced if an attorney represents them.

Last month, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other Democrats introduced legislation that would require the government to appoint attorneys for children in immigration court who crossed the border alone or were victims of abuse, torture and other violence. [Continue reading…]

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