U.S. Immigration System Detains Child Migrants Without Access To Legal Representation

Yeser Escalante Child Migrant from Guatemala
Yeser Escalante, left, poses for a photograph at his home as his sister Yury looks on in May 2016 in Hamilton, Ohio. Federal data shows Ohio has taken in only slightly over 1 percent of the more than 100,000 unaccompanied minors who federal authorities have placed around the country since fall 2013. Escalante was an unaccompanied minor from Guatemala when he arrived in Butler County three years ago. He has learned to speak English and is grateful for the opportunity to go to school. John Minchillo / Associated Press
Yeser Escalante Child Migrant from Guatemala
Yeser Escalante, left, poses for a photograph at his home as his sister Yury looks on in May 2016 in Hamilton, Ohio. Federal data shows Ohio has taken in only slightly over 1 percent of the more than 100,000 unaccompanied minors who federal authorities have placed around the country since fall 2013. Escalante was an unaccompanied minor from Guatemala when he arrived in Butler County three years ago. He has learned to speak English and is grateful for the opportunity to go to school. John Minchillo / Associated Press

U.S. Immigration System Detains Child Migrants Without Access To Legal Representation

U.S. citizens expect the right to access to an attorney should they have to appear in court. For people in the U.S. immigration system, even for children, such rights are not guaranteed. 

Thousands of migrant children go through the immigration process and are asked questions that many adults couldn’t answer without legal help. 

Grace Meng is senior researcher in Human Rights Watch’s U.S. program. She investigates abuses in the U.S. immigration system and its intersections with the criminal justice system. She tells us about some of what she says are unjust and inhumane situations for migrants while their cases are adjudicated.