- The Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking immigration judges to treat cases involving migrants under the age of 21 as part of a child docket that loosens restrictions on court absences, according to a recent memo.
- Immigration judges should make “special considerations” when young migrants fail to appear in court, the DOJ memo reads.
- “This EOIR memo is just another way for the Biden administration to further their agenda of dismissing cases and avoiding removals for illegal aliens, instructing immigration judges to be more like counselors than an enforcer of the laws that Congress wrote,” Ira Mehlman, who works for Federation for American Immigration Reform in America (FAIR), told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Biden administration is instructing immigration judges to loosen restrictions on migrants under the age of 21 for not appearing in court, according to a recent federal memo.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) memo directs judges to handle cases involving migrants below the age of 21 with less scrutiny and give them second chances if they fail to show up to their court appearances as part of a new “juvenile docket” for such cases, according to the memo, which was issued Dec. 21. The number of unaccompanied migrants crossing the southern border continues at record highs in recent years, according to the Congressional Research Service.
“This [Executive Office of Immigration Review] memo is just another way for the Biden administration to further their agenda of dismissing cases and avoiding removals for illegal aliens, instructing immigration judges to be more like counselors than an enforcer of the laws that Congress wrote,” Ira Mehlman, who works for Federation for American Immigration Reform in America (FAIR), told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“They are pushing the envelope using children, a sympathetic class of people, but in reality, this dedicated docket will cover adults who should be subject to expedited removal, and ensure they are given every chance to seek other forms of relief to avoid deportation,” Mehlman said.
The memo instructs judges to make “special considerations” when young migrants fail to appear in court. When young migrants can’t be located due to an unreported change of address or an “overlooked” request to make such a change, a 30-day extension to verify the location of the migrant will be requested.
A judge will then proceed with the case if the young migrant fails to appear to the next hearing and can order them removed in their absence, according to the memo.
The creation of a juvenile docket will help address mounting concerns of human trafficking involving children entering the country illegally, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“Juvenile points of contact will be trained to recognize common indicators of these crimes in order to seek engagement by our ICE colleagues to provide protection and support to these children when needed, while ensuring fair adjudication of their cases before the court. This new initiative is for the well-being of children throughout their immigration proceedings,” ICE Principal Legal Advisor Kerry E. Doyle said in a statement regarding the program.
In cases where a child shows signs that they’re a victim of trafficking, abuse and neglect, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) “may” open a probe into the matter, according to the memo.
The issue of trafficking has received much more attention after The New York Times reported on the exploitation of migrant children released to HHS-vetted sponsors that end up working in unsafe slaughterhouses and factories. The NYT found that the U.S. government couldn’t reach 85,000 migrant children released to sponsors by HHS in recent years.
“The administration gives the impression it is concerned about the interests of children in our immigration system, mandating, for example, that ICE attorneys ‘will’ request a 30-day continuance when children fail to appear in court. But I notice that in the same document, the administration writes only that DHS and HHS ‘may’ initiate investigations into potential trafficking, abuse, or neglect,” former ICE Chief of Staff under the Trump administration Jon Feere, who now serves as the director of investigations for the Center for Immigration Studies, told the DCNF.
“Why no command there? And why, exactly, hasn’t ICE launched massive investigations into the worksite abuses of unaccompanied minors uncovered by the New York Times in multiple exposés? There’s no doubt that the Biden administration’s anti-border policies have been a boon for child exploitation, yet ICE hasn’t had a single press conference announcing any arrests of those involved,” Feere added.
DHS, HHS and the DOJ didn’t immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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