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  • House Members Introduce Legislation to Protect Asylum Seeking Children

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    Statement by Michelle Brané, Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program

    We are heartened that Congress is considering legislation to ensure access to counsel for refugee children and other vulnerable groups in court proceedings. Under current law, there is no right to appointed counsel in immigration removal proceedings, even if the respondent is a child. We find this out of step with our moral and legal obligation to protect refugees.

    The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act provides for due process and offers an alternative to ICE raids that deport vulnerable children to dangerous countries where they face threats of violence, abuse, or even death.

    We commend Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) and Luis V. Gutiérrez for introducing the bill today. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) on February 11th, and co-sponsored by Sens Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Patty Murray (D-WA).

    An overwhelming majority of children without attorneys are ordered deported while children with attorneys are five times more likely to be granted protection, meaning the U.S. is sending children who should be protected back to dangerous situations because they were not able to explain their case on their own.

    This bill is an important step for Congress to ensure the protection of refugees.