Obama's 'Rocket Dockets' for Refugee Children 'Shameful'

Obama's 'Rocket Dockets' for Refugee Children 'Shameful'

"Responding to a flood of unaccompanied minors crossing the border in the last year, Miami's immigration court has instituted a "rocket docket,'' assigning three judges to exclusively handle cases involving the youths and decide up to 150 cases a day. ... 

The rocket dockets were started after the Obama administration last month began fast-tracking cases involving unaccompanied minors who enter the United States through border states such as Texas and California, as well as to increase penalties for illegal entry. Many of those children are sent to Florida, which has detention facilities for youths. ... 

Groups like AIJ as well as the National Association of Immigration Judges have been lobbying Congress to abandon the rocket-docket approach, saying due process cannot occur under such time constraints. They've sent a letter to Congress requesting funding to hire more immigration judges.  Because lawyers cannot be found in time to represent the children—most need interpreters and sending them back to their home countries can be dangerous or fatal—more time should be given to the judges to process the cases, stated the judges association in a letter to Congress. ... 

Little is preparing to send a letter to all Miami law firms seeking pro bono attorneys to assign to each child. Her group has a lawyer and paralegal staffing one of the judges every day, but not all three. AIJ helped more than 1,600 unaccompanied minors last year and 1,400 so far this year. The youngest was 9 months old.  "If children don't have attorneys, there's a good chance they will be deported," Little said. "I'm very disappointed that President Obama would do this. He was a constitutional law professor for God's sake, and he knows what due process is. This is shameful of him."

Catholic Legal Services is also asking for attorneys, paralegals and law students—particularly Spanish speakers—to help on a pro bono basis. The group has offered to serve as a "friend of the court" to the children, representing their needs when lawyers can't be found." - Julie Kay, Aug. 4, 2014.