WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 – Sen. Bernie Sanders announced today that he will cosponsor Sen. Harry Reid’s legislation to guarantee legal protection for border refugees. The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act would mandate the attorney general appoint lawyers for unaccompanied children and others who are vulnerable, like victims of abuse or torture and those with disabilities.
“Our immigration policies must be consistent with our historical commitment to provide protection and due process to those fleeing violence and persecution. We must stand up for the rights of the powerless and extend proper legal protection to children and other vulnerable immigrants,” Sanders said. “We will not tolerate calls to send back unaccompanied children and victims of crime and domestic violence to the countries they have fled.”
It has been reported that as many as 83 Central American immigrants recently denied asylum were murdered within months of their return.
Approximately 70 percent of women with children and 50 percent of unaccompanied children who enter the United States do not have a lawyer in deportation proceedings; however, a majority of recently arrived unaccompanied children are eligible for legal protection that would allow them to lawfully remain in the United States. Nine out of 10 children without attorneys are ordered deported, yet children with attorneys are five times more likely to be granted protection.
“Our guiding principle in terms of immigration reform must be to unite families, not divide them up,” Sanders added.
Recently, Sanders has called on the Obama administration to end the deportation raids, extend Temporary Protected Status to families who have fled violence in Central America and reassess its new immigration enforcement initiative. He has also introduced legislation that would eliminate quotas for the number of immigrants held in detention and ban private prisons.
To view the Fair Day in Court Act, click here.