There’s a lot of talk in the media about the crisis of immigrant children and how cases are being moved through too quickly. Immigration advocates constantly talk about how the immigrants at the border are being deprived of due process.
So what is due process? And why is it a problem when due process is denied?
Due process is so important that it’s in our Constitution twice! It’s how we – people – are protected in the legal system. When the government wants to take away or impede on our life, liberty, or property, it must follow certain rules and steps. We must be provided with notice of the proceedings against us, the right to a neutral judge, and the right to appeal. These rules and steps are called due process.
Right now, the immigration courts are rushing unaccompanied minors through removal proceedings. The immigration judges have been told that these children are a priority. Not a priority to care for or tend to, but a priority to get worked through the bureaucratic system as quickly as possible. That’s not due process.
Moving so fast can really hurt these children’s chances for success in the court system. There’s limited time to find and work with an attorney, and there’s limited time to put together a case when the court insists on a “rocket docket.”
Without slowing things down and providing due process, children will be deported without understanding the charges against them or knowing if there are ways for them to fight to stay in the United States.
Our immigration system, our government, cannot deprive the most vulnerable, children escaping unimaginable violence, of these basic legal rights, but it feels as though it is.