More than 7,000 immigrant children who missed court hearings have been ordered deported by the federal government in recent months – and that’s raising alarms from immigration activists.
The minors were part of a wave of undocumented children from Central America who illegally crossed the border in 2013 and 2014.
The government has filed more than 60,000 deportation cases against minors in the past 18 months, according to the L.A. Times. About 7,700 minors failed to appear at court hearings and were ordered to be deported.
It’s not clear how many of those children have been removed from the country. Immigration activists are calling on the government to temporarily stop issuing removal orders. They say that court notices were sent late in some cases, or arrived at the wrong address. A recent analysis found that nearly 90 percent of the deportation orders went to children who were not represented by an attorney.
President Barack Obama called the surge of immigration from Central America a humanitarian crisis. The Justice Department has ordered immigration courts to prioritize the cases of the mostly unaccompanied minors.
But immigration activists say the courts have been buried under a crush of fast-tracked cases. In addition, they say the review system is rigged to make it all-but-impossible to establish the “credible fear” standard that’s necessary to avoid deportation.
Children who are being sent home face difficult circumstances, to say the least. Activists say that in addition to returning to grinding poverty, many left because they were targeted with violence.