The news of unaccompanied minors crossing our border from Central America has slowed in the last month, but these children are still here. Every week, close to 100 children are being seen by immigration judges in Dallas immigration Court to plead their case for immigration relief. Last month, administration of President Obama directed immigration courts to expedite hearings for unaccompanied minors, asking judges to schedule first hearings for children within 21 days of their arrival, called “rocket dockets”. Many children are given less than 30 days until their second hearing where they must come with an attorney, have a completed application for relief in English, or be deported.
This system makes it almost impossible for children to find attorneys willing to help, and very difficult for attorneys who care to find the time and training to offer their services. Giving children less than a month to find an attorney and prepare their case for immigration relief is unrealistic and no doubt leads to incomplete or inaccurate applications for relief submitted to the court. Immigration law is complex and most immigrants, especially children, need an attorney to guide them through the process. Kids need more time. This pace also interferes with HRI’s ability to properly assign a case to a volunteer lawyer, so in order to help more kids, our staff attorneys take on more cases “in-house.”
Help HRI ask President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Attorney General Eric Holder for more time for refugee children.
1. Send a letter to the White House or the Department of Justice demanding a stop to rocket dockets. Not sure what to say? You can download HRI’s letter here to use. You can also copy and paste the content into an email to the White House or Department of Justice.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
2. Tweet out using the hashtag #stoprocketdockets to @BarackObama, @VP and @TheJusticeDept. You can simply re-tweet HRI’s tweet.
3. DONATE – HRI is doing our very best to link immigrant children with caring and trained attorneys to help them with their case for relief. Every week, HRI screens children for legal relief and tries to pair them with attorneys using our own network of pro bono volunteers, or through our partnership with the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association, American Immigration Lawyers Association – Texas, and private attorneys.
To continue this work, HRI needs the funds to hire a new attorney to help ensure that children with eligible relief will have the opportunity to be represented in court. You can help us help more children by investing in a new attorney or helping us continue to pay for attorneys who are already doing this work.