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Court: Detained Immigrant Children Entitled To Court Hearing

Detained immigrant children line up in the cafeteria at the Karnes County Residential Center, a temporary home for immigrant women and children detained at the border, in Karnes City, Texas, Sept. 10, 2014.
Associated Press
Detained immigrant children line up in the cafeteria at the Karnes County Residential Center, a temporary home for immigrant women and children detained at the border, in Karnes City, Texas, Sept. 10, 2014.

Court: Detained Immigrant Children Entitled To Court Hearing
Court: Detained Immigrant Children Entitled To Court Hearing GUEST:Lilia Velasquez, immigration attorney

Our top story the ninth circuit Court of Appeals headed to the Trump administration another hot potato with the ruling on the detention of immigrant youth. A panel ruled that minors who into this country illegally must be given on hearings and not held in detention indefinitely. They are deciding how it will respond to the ruling. The federal -- feds ruled that they may be investigated to see if they arranged to have the children smuggled into the country. Joining me is Lilia Velasquez . The ruling is based on a settlement with the Clinton administration on the treatment of child immigrants. They said detain minders that were in the country illegally must be given a bond hearing. What does that entitle them to? What they supply today is that the person has a right to go before the immigration judge but not because the judge is going to set a bond. Especially in the case of writing aliens those are the people that came and surrendered. By law they are not entitled to a bond hearing before the immigration judge. They are entitled to ice for review the family situation and determine if they would be a good bet to be released on parole. That happens with the mother with an infant child. That is clearly a case that qualifies for parole by the immigration service. The decision is a bit misleading because of the language that they use. They said they are entitled to a bond redetermination hearing. That is not for the judge to set a bond. It is for the judge to review the efforts by the government if they have found a safe and secure placement for that child. This case was brought on behalf of the 15-year-old who was found illegally crossing the border and then detained in a facility for 16 months without any kind of legal proceeding. Have you heard of that kind of long detention for immigrant children? Not so much for children because most of the children were Mexican children and those will not be subject to this order because the government in here locally they are able to take the child into custody and then take them to Mexico to a safe place until they can be reunited with their parents. This have to do with the life because of the influx that we had. We have almost half 1 million people who surrendered. So suddenly the agreement comes to life. I think that's what it meant. I think the key question is if there is no place can take custody of this child, where does the child go? The hot potato that are referred to the opening is not so much this backlog that we've heard of immigration cases already in the courts, there's actually no safe place outside of perhaps a detention facility for many of these young immigrants to go. That is right. We caught by surprise. We have a handful of minors but to have thousands of minors then it puts us in a position of what are we going to do? Do you see this ruling being appealed perhaps up to the Supreme Court by the government? It could be. I don't know how long it will take. Some of been in detention for so long because there is no place to be sent to that is a safe place then they have to look for something else. Foster care is not a possibility? There are a lot of unanswered questions. It has to do with the number of cases they came to us. I want to ask you about a related issue home and security recently said that an effort to break up immigration smuggling rings what they want to do is possibly press charges against the U.S. sponsors of immigrant children suspected of hiring people to bring their kids to the U.S. What kind of practical fallout might that have question Mark I don't see much from this. In some instances when a person applies for a immigrant visa, they qualify for a waiver. But if it was a spouse, child or parent, it qualifies for a waiver. Same thing in the context of immigration hearing the person has to have good moral character for certain number of years. In terms of the U.S. attorney's office or the DAs office willing to file a complaint and file charges against the sponsor a lot of investigation has to take place before that happens. I understand the concern of children were being trafficked. We are saying this is a perfect time. Will come in droves and makes the kids and it is possible that those kids are being trafficked. The question is whether or not we have the resources to investigate the cases and see them through the court system. I've been speaking with an attorney, Lilia Velasquez. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Immigrant children who cross the border without their parents have the right to a court hearing to challenge any decision to detain them instead of turning them over to family in the U.S., a federal appeals court said Wednesday.

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said two laws passed by Congress did not end the right to a bond hearing for unaccompanied immigrant children who are detained by federal authorities.

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children fleeing gang and drug violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have entered the U.S. in recent years.

Federal officials place the vast majority of them with family in the U.S., who care for the minors while they attend school and while their cases go through the immigration court system.

But the Department of Human Services has the authority to hold children in secure facilities if they pose a danger to themselves or others or have committed a crime. Some have spent months in detention.

Immigration advocates estimate the size of the group in secure custody at several hundred children and say bond hearings allow them to understand why they are being held and challenge their detention.

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"If you don't give kids transparency and a clear finite date when their detention will end you see all kinds of psychological effects," said Holly Cooper, co-director of the Immigration Law Clinic at the University of California, Davis.

Cooper represented plaintiffs in the legal fight over the bond hearings. The 9th Circuit ruling cited a declaration from one teenager who was held for 16 months, mostly at a juvenile detention center in Northern California. The teen, referred to only by his first name, Hector, said federal officials provided no explanation for his continued detention, and he received no hearing before an immigration judge. He was eventually released to his mother.

The Obama administration argued that two laws — one approved in 2002 and the other in 2008 — did away with the bond hearing requirement in a 1997 court settlement by giving the human services department all authority over custody and placement decisions for unaccompanied children.

The Department of Justice said in a 2016 court filing that immigration judges "are not experts in child-welfare issues and possess significantly less expertise in determining what is in the best interest of the child" than human services officials.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, said the two laws do not give exclusive authority over unaccompanied minors to HHS' Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Justice Department spokeswoman Nicole Navas said the agency was reviewing the court's ruling and considering its next steps.

Reinhardt said bond hearings are "an opportunity for counsel to bring forth the reasons for the minor's detention, examine and rebut the government's evidence, and build a record regarding the child's custody.

"Without such hearings, these children have no meaningful forum in which to challenge ORR's decisions regarding their detention or even to discover why those decisions have been made," he said.