Undocumented children bring their immigration cases to court
Friday, July 11, 2014 - 01:43
Two young Latin American teens are among more than 100 undocumented minors to have immigration hearings in a New York court. Mana Rabiee reports.
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Outside a Manhattan courthouse on Thursday, more than a hundred Central American minors were having their day in court.
Youngsters like 14-year-old Ho-Sway Amaya.
He entered the country illegally from Honduras; to flee gang violence, he says, after his father abandoned the family.
He's hoping a federal immigration judge will let him stay in the U.S..
(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) HO-SWAY AMAYA, ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT, SAYING:
"It's very complicated because if you don't do what they say, they can kill you."
Ho-sway's sister paid for his attorney, Raj Jadaja.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ATTORNEY RAJ JADAJA SAYING:
"The gangs run Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. It's a terrible situation. I don't blame him for coming. I would do the same thing."
Some 26 immigrations courts across the U.S. are starting to hear cases for undocumented children who entered the country unaccompanied.
Including the case of 16-year-old Lucas Hodinas of Mexico.
"I was abused by my parents," he says.
Lucas is in New York with his brother now.
He's seeking asylum with help from a guardian.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FATHER FABIAN ARIAS, GUARDIAN, SAYING:
"It's difficult for them, especially because they are alone and they don't have any kind of representation, families."
More than 50,000 of these children have been caught at the border this year alone.
A 2008 law requires most of them to have some legal protection before being deported.
That means it could be years before all of the cases can be processed.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ROBERT CISNEROS, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY, SAYING:
"I was in court today, not on my case, but some of the other cases. They were saying, 'Okay you're going to have a final hearing,' which is a merit hearing which is where testimony is taken and exhibits are given and there's a determination made about whether a person is eligible to remain in the U.S. or has to leave. The dates they were giving for those hearings were 2015, 2016 even."
The children endured a difficult journey to get here.
Now, they'll have to endure another, even longer journey -- through the court system -- if they hope to stay.
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