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Administration Sending Unaccompanied Child Refugees Back to Violent Countries

The Administration confirms it plans to deport some of the unaccompanied children who fled violence in Central America and sought safety in the U.S.

In addition to the raids on Central American families the Administration began last weekend, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed that they will also target unaccompanied children for deportation, despite serious concerns these children were not afforded basic protections provided for by U.S. law. The courts have issued in absentia removal orders against children who sought safety in the U.S. as part of the influx of refugees that began summer of 2014.

“The government concedes that their notification process was flawed and that at least some of the removal orders were the result of children not knowing they were required to show up in court,” said Michelle Brané, Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission’s Migrant Rights and Justice Program. “The Administration is pursuing a failed strategy to deter refugees by sending children back to the violence that led them to flee alone in the first place.”

“El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are among the most dangerous countries in the world. It’s unconscionable that the United States would send back any child, much less those who are without parents or guardians to protect them,” continued Brané.

While non-citizens have no guarantee of legal representation to help them navigate the asylum process, unaccompanied children are given special protections under U.S. law because they have no one to help them navigate a complex legal system. The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) have made an effort to provide counsel for these children but the Women’s Refugee Commission calls for a guarantee of assistance so that none of them face a judge alone and so that the majority who have legitimate refugee claims are protected by asylum laws.