Proposed Law Could Lead to Deportation of Thousands of Child Migrants

On behalf of Mark E. Jacobs

A bill has been proposed by federal lawmakers that could speed up the deportation of thousands of child migrants.

Bill would require asylum seekers to have a hearing with seven days

Proposed federal legislation, which sponsors have dubbed the Humane Act, could lead to the deportation and removal of thousands of child migrants from Central America who recently crossed into the United States, according to the Dallas Morning News. The bill comes in response to a growing number of child migrants coming to the United States from countries like Guatemala and Honduras that have been marred by poverty and violence in recent years. Critics of the bill say it would violate child migrants' rights and could send them back to potentially dangerous situations.

Asylum hearings sped up

The bill would require any child who requests asylum to have an asylum hearing within seven days after requesting one. A judge would then have 72 hours to decide whether to grant an asylum request. Currently, asylum hearings can take years to arrange due to a significant backlog in the immigration system. As a result, young asylum seekers could see their stays in the U.S. shortened by years.

The law is an update to 2008 legislation that required unaccompanied minors from Mexico or Canada who arrive in the U.S. illegally to be screened within 48 hours and sent back to their home countries immediately. The proposed law would expand those decreased screening times to children from other Central American countries, who currently enjoy increased legal protections.

Critics condemn bill

Plenty of critics have come out against the bill, according to the Texas Tribune. One U.S. Representative from Texas claimed the bill would lead to the quick deportation of thousands of the minors who have recently crossed the border. He said in many cases those children may be returned to situations in their home countries that are violent and even deadly.

The bill allows children to waive their immigration hearings and "voluntarily" return to their home countries. Critics, however, point out that child migrants are unlikely to be familiar with U.S. immigration law and may not have an attorney defending them. In some cases, fear and intimidation may lead to children choosing to waive their immigration hearings.

Immigration law

As the above story shows, immigration law is highly complex and can often leave newly arrived migrants feeling helpless and intimidated, especially if those migrants are young children. While it remains unclear whether the proposed legislation will be passed into law, the story nonetheless highlights how important an understanding of current U.S. immigration law is for new migrants.

As such, anybody with an immigration issue needs the help of a highly qualified immigration lawyer, no matter how long they have been in the U.S. An experienced lawyer can help with a variety of immigration issues, such as deportation, asylum and green cards, so that migrants will have the help they need to make sure they can continue their stay within the U.S.

Keywords: deportation, removal, child migrants, immigration