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Are we a country that deports children who don't have lawyers representing them? The ACLU and is allies is testing that question in court.

The American Civil Liberties Union, American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP have asked a federal court to block the government from pursuing deportation proceedings against several children unless those youth receive legal representation.

The move comes as immigration courts are speeding up deportation hearings against children in an expedited process.

The groups filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of thousands of children challenging the federal government's failure to provide them with lawyers in their deportation hearings. The preliminary injunction motion filed late last week specifically asks that the fast-approaching deportation proceedings for several of the named plaintiffs be forestalled until those children are provided with attorneys.

The groups also asked the court to hear their motion for class certification as soon as possible, so that other unrepresented children may be protected as well.

The plaintiffs cited in the motion are:

  • A 10-year-old boy, his 13-year-old brother, and 15-year-old sister from El Salvador, whose father was murdered in front of their eyes. The father was targeted because he and the mother ran a rehabilitation center for people trying to leave gangs.
  • A 14-year-old girl who had been living with her grandparents, but was forced to flee El Salvador after being threatened and then attacked by gang members.
  • A 15-year-old boy who was abandoned and abused in Guatemala, and came to the United States without any family or friends.
  • A 17-year-old boy who fled gang violence and recruitment in Guatemala and now lives with his lawful permanent-resident father in Los Angeles.

The lawsuit, J.E.F.M. v. Holder, was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Wash. It charges the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services, Executive Office for Immigration Review, and Office of Refugee Resettlement with violating the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act's provisions requiring a "full and fair hearing" before an immigration judge.

The preliminary injunction motion is available at:
aclu.org/immigrants-rights/jefm-v-holder-preliminary-injunction-motion 

This post originally appeared at Wonky News Nerd.
 

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