“The minors and their guardians sit in the fluorescent-lit room and stare at the sketch on the whiteboard,” reports the Latin America News Dispatch.
The image represents a map of Mexico and the U.S. separated by a line: the border. Elvis Garcia Callejas, a case manager with Catholic Charities, presides over the information session.
“So, you all crossed that line and that’s why you’re sitting here, right?” Callejas asks the group. A few sheepishly smile while others are busy texting on their phones.
A native of Honduras, Callejas was an undocumented minor himself before gaining citizenship. He understands the trauma many of the people in front of him experienced as well as the legal options available. In his rapid-fire Spanish presentation peppered with plenty of jokes, Callejas aims to provide the minors with necessary information while also putting them at ease before their impending deportation hearings.
At one point Callejas likens immigration officers to iguanas because of their green uniforms. At another, he explains how the inside of a courtroom looks like a church and is “just as boring.” By the end of the session minors and their guardians are chuckling along. Not only does Callejas speak the vernacular, but he is well rehearsed: he holds an identical session weekly at 26 Federal Plaza — the building that houses New York City’s immigration court — just one hour before minors are to appear before a judge.
Catholic Charities is just one of the organizations in New York City that has taken advantage of so-called “rocket docket” days, in which judges hold initial hearings for many minors simultaneously, on multiple days each week. The expedited court process is just one of President Barack Obama’s strategies to handle the surge of unaccompanied minors in the country and the subsequent backlog of immigration cases.
Read the full story in Latin America News Dispatch.
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