How well did you know immigration law at three years old?
John Oliver had a segment on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” this week discussing the growing problem in immigration courts. Oliver first points out that there are more than 684,000 backlogged cases heading to the almost 60 immigration courts across the country. That number represents a doubling of cases compared to 2009. In many cases, immigrants awaiting their day in an immigration court have to wait years. As Oliver points out, immigrants in Chicago, for example, can wait up to five years before they get their day in front of an immigration judge.
“So how did this system get so broken,” Oliver asks the audience. “Well, let’s start with the fact that a surge of immigration from Central America, ramped up immigration enforcement and a glacial rate of hiring judges have combined to create a truly massive backlog of cases.”
While that fact alone is troubling for the immigrant community, what is more startling is the fact that immigration courts are civil courts. This means that the federal government does not have to provide attorneys for people who can’t afford it. This rule also applies to young children.
“That’s just clearly ridiculous because you cannot let a two-year-old be unsupervised in court,” Oliver says. He adds: “While sending kids into court without representation might seem crazy to you, amazingly, some judges are apparently fine with it. When a lawsuit was filed arguing all kids need lawyers, Jack H. Weil, an assistant chief immigration judge suggested that’s not necessarily the case.”
Immigration Judge Jack H. Weil made headlines when he argued that he has taught young children immigration law.
“I’ve taught immigration law, literally, to three-year-olds and four-year-olds,” Judge Weil said in a deposition, according to Oliver. “It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience. They get it. It’s not the most efficient, but it can be done.”
Immigration attorneys have fought back against Weil’s assertion showing their own toddler children answer immigration questions.
As you can tell from the above video, children as young as three and four years old are not able to understand immigration law. Let alone properly answer questions from an immigration judge about their place of birth, native language and where they’d be deported to.
Oliver goes on to further explain the discrepancy between deportation rates among different American cities with some cities having deportation rates close to 90 percent in Atlanta and some as low as 24 percent in New York.