A federal immigration court in Manhattan that usually deals with fewer than 100 new children’s cases a month is getting a lot busier, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Twenty-nine minors who entered the country unaccompanied by adults appeared Wednesday before Judge James Loprest, Jr., some with attorneys, others with family by their sides. Six-year-old Gabriela and her brother Brandon Lopez, 15, were among the minors hoping to be allowed to legally stay with family already living in the U.S.
The siblings participated in the first day of surge docket hearings at federal immigration court. The “surge docket” is an initiative by the federal government to help expedite the legal process for the more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors who have been processed into the system since October.
The minors are fleeing poverty, gang-violence and death, say advocates from the New York chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
AILA is one of five groups handling unaccompanied minor cases. The others are the Legal Aid Society and nonprofits Catholic Charities, Safe Passage, and The Door. The groups have been preparing for a surge in cases since they learned 3, 347 unaccompanied minors had arrived in the state since January. New York is second to Texas with the most cases.
Gabriela and Brandon needed to leave their home country to get away from extortionists, said their father, 35-year-old Emerson Lopez.
“I began to hear rumors that they were going start charging rent for each head,” Lopez said, referring to his children.
“In my home country, they call them ‘heads.’ They treat people as if they are cattle, and that’s when my wife and I made the decision to send for them,” he said.
Read the full story in the Wall Street Journal.
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