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New York Officials Support Border Children's Best Interest Rights. By Roger Algase

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Update, July 28, 8:25 am:

And in an example of rank hypocrisy, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D), who has spoken out eloquently on behalf of the border children, protested when federal officials proposed to house some of them temporarily at an Army Reserve facility in his state. See the Washington Post Editorial: Gov. O'Malley is all talk, no action, on immigrant children ​(July 27).


Update: July 28, 6:30 am:


Municipal officials in New York and Syracuse are not the only ones who are supporting the rights that Central American children have under current federal law to stay in the US pending immigration court determination of their claims for asylum or other relief. Chicago has also offered temporary shelter to 1,000 border children fleeing gang violence and other dangerous conditions in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Fox News Latino quotes Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as stating:

"We cannot turn our backs on children that are fleeing dangerous conditions. We will do our part to ensure that these children are given access to services and treated fairly and humanely."


See City Of Chicago Offers Temporary Shelter To 1,000 Central American Migrant Children, July 27

Indiana has also accepted 245 border children, according to the Indianapolis Business Journal: Indiana Receives 245 Children Caught at U.S. Border (reprinting a July 24 Associated Press report).

On a related note, there is a widespread belief that if the TVPRA (discussed below and in my previous posts) were amended in order to eliminate the guarantee of an asylum hearing before an immigration judge now afforded to children from every country in the world except Mexico (and Canada, which was obviously thrown in for cosmetic purposes, since no one expects any influx of child refugees on America's northern border), then it would be easy to send all of the border children back home without any legal process at all. In what would amount to "immigration reform" in reverse, Congressional Republicans are trying to change the TVPRA in order to eliminate the guarantee of immigration court hearings.

But assuming that this would make it possible to send every child caught at the border on a plane back to Central America without further ado is based on a serious misunderstanding of the rights of children from contiguous countries under the same statute. This issue is discussed in detail in an analysis of asylum claims by Mexican children at the US border by the Immigration Policy Center. See Mexican and Central American Asylum and Credible Fear Claims: Background and Context (May 21).

This study will be the subject of my forthcoming post.

My original post appears below:

Huffington Post Latino Voices reports on July 25 that New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is suggesting that New York City should provide shelter to some of the Central American border children who are in the US awaiting asylum hearings (as required by current law). She said:

"...I think we should be humane about the way we deal with situations like this."

Meanwhile Stephanie Miner, Mayor of Syracuse NY, which has recently offered shelter to some of the children, has written a letter to President Obama saying:

"As a city with a rich immigrant tradition, we strongly feel that these children should be welcomed and protected."

And Nisha Agarwal, New York City's Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs, stated:

"My reaction to the whole situation is that these are children and they are the victims here...There are deeper root causes that we need to be addressing rather than shuttling these kids as fast as we possibly can back to situations of violence."

The statements of these officials are also entirely in accordance with Section 235(c) of the TVPRA, which mandates that the best interests of the child should be protected in all arrangements concerning custody of the children pending removal hearings.

Opponents of this law regard this protection as an aberration, with the consequences of allowing children to remain in the US beyond the actual intention of Congress, but this is simply not true.

As shown below, despite its title, the TVPRA (Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act) is not limited to protecting child trafficking victims, but is meant to protect other vulnerable children as well. The doctrine of respecting the best interests of unaccompanied children in immigration custody grew out of the INS settlement agreement in the Supreme Court Case of Reno v. Flores, 507 U.S. 292 (1993). Repealing section 235(c) would turn the clock back on immigrant children's rights in the US to the pre-Flores era.

Considering the best interests of the child is not only required with regard to shelter/custody arrangements, according to the above statute. TVPRA Section 235(c) also provides for the appointment of Child Advocates to assist the children in immigration court proceedings.

The Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights (of the University of Chicago) points out the following in its Young Center Proposal for a Best Interests of the Child Visa (January, 2011 with revisions dated June, 2013):

"At present, TVPRA Section 235(c)(6) provides for the appointment of Child Advocates for trafficking victims and other vulnerable unaccompanied immigrant children and provides that the role of the Child Advocate is to advocate for the best interests of the child. The Child Advocate makes best interests recommendations to decision-makers using standards set forth in state child welfare laws and international law. However at present, many immigration judges still do not consider the child's safety and well-being when making decisions regarding removal." (Emphasis added.)

Sheltering the children in immigrant-friendly localities such as Syracuse and New York City, instead of parts of the country controlled by politicians who are more hostile to Latin American immigrants of all ages (and status, legal or otherwise) could make it easier to achieve the above statutory goal of making sure that the children's best interests are protected in all matters relating to removal proceedings.

The Huffpost article is called New York City May Begin Housing Unaccompanied Border Children.

The link is

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/0..._5620292.html?








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Updated 07-28-2014 at 07:25 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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