Quotes from interview with Cheryl Little, with Americans for Immigrant Justice
"The children we are seeing are younger and younger. The average age maybe three, four years ago was 15, 16. Now we are seeing a lot of children 12 years old and younger. We are seeing more girls than we have before and a lot of these young girls were raped in their home country and unfortunately many of them were raped during their journey here. You look into the eyes of these kids and you talk to them and it is so inspiring because they are so resourceful. All they want is to be safe and secure. None of them came because they thought they were going to be able to stay here; they came to save their lives and the very least we can do as Americans is give them a fighting chance."
"We had two immigration judges in Miami who were in charge of the children's docket and they heard cases four times a month, probably each of those four times thirty cases. Starting tomorrow there are three judges and they are going to be hearing cases five days a week. So let's say it is a Tuesday -- on a Tuesday there will be 150 children's' cases heard."
"We are working literally around the clock. We were frantically busy helping the children in the shelters before we learned that tomorrow the immigration court cases are going to be fast-tracked and everybody is scrambling to try and ensure that we have an opportunity to help these kids. Because if we don't, and they fall through the cracks and they have no one to help them no matter how compelling the case, they are going to be deported. I don't think there's much question about that and in some cases being deported could be a virtual death sentence."
"Most of the children we are seeing in both of the shelters here are being released to some kind of sponsor."
"The children we are seeing are primarily from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. What is happening now is that any child who has arrived after May 1 of this year, their case is being fast-tracked, which we think is a real problem for a whole lot of reasons, so they will be going before an immigration judge pretty quickly."
"If they don't have sponsors they will be in temporary foster care. If they get legal status in the United States they would be moved into permanent foster care until they turn the age 18."
"When these children arrive in the United States they are entitled to due process and a full and fair hearing. I don't see how they get that if their cases are fast-tracked. First of all, they are children, secondly, immigration law is very complicated event for adults. Immigration judges just sent a letter to John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi basically saying we don't think it is a good idea to fast-track these cases. We absolutely need to have lawyers representing these children if they have a fighting chance to make their case. So it is not just advocates like us saying, 'This is a crazy idea," you have immigration judges saying, 'Look, we may be able listen to a lot more cases in a shorter period of time, but it is at the expense of due process.'"
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