Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement about her concerns that many of the 50,000 unaccompanied children from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador at the border of the United States and Mexico have been denied access to legal counsel.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have refused to allocate resources for attorneys to advise the children, even as records indicate that more than forty percent of the children -- many of whom cannot speak English and are under fourteen years-of-age -- lack access to legal services. Under a law intended to prevent human trafficking, children who arrive at the border of the United States alone (from nations other than Canada or Mexico) are allowed to have a hearing with immigration enforcement authorities to apply for asylum or status as a refugee.
"These children have endured serious risks in traveling to the United States, even death, on a journey of hundreds of miles. As a society, we share a commitment to due process under law. We cannot in good conscience deny critical legal services to these children -- many of whom are eligible to apply for asylum in the United States based on the threat of violence," said Congresswoman Clarke. "I will work with my colleagues and the Department of Justice to fulfill our responsibilities under the Constitution, to provide each child with full legal representation."