Immigrant advocacy groups have sued the federal government for a failure to provide legal representation for immigrant children facing deportation.
The class-action lawsuit (attached below) alleges the government is violating due process by having children navigate the complex immigration legal system alone.
The suit comes as the Obama administration scrambles resources to meet a surge of unaccompanied minors arriving at the nation's southwest border. The complaint seeks to require agencies to provide children with legal representation at deportation hearings.
"The government pays for a trained prosecutor to advocate for the deportation of every child. It is patently unfair to force children to defend themselves alone," said Ahilan Arulanantham, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "Their ability to grasp what is at stake and even just perform the act of talking to a judge is virtually nonexistent.
"A 10-year-old cannot make legal arguments and cannot even make reliably accurate factual statements that a court can rely on in deciding that child's case."
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle by the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Immigration Council and other groups on behalf of children facing deportation hearings.