In our last blog, we discussed whether children who are in the country illegally can be deported by the ICE. We learned that they face removal proceedings just as they would if they were over the age of 18. However, there are special procedures that immigration authorities must follow.
Here’s an example: Living in a war-torn country, Aliya’s parents want their 15-year-old daughter to have a better life. So they decide she will live with some family friends in Houston, away from the violence. They go through the proper channels and obtain a temporary visa that expires at the end of the summer. However, at summer’s end, Aliya overstays her visa and forgets to reapply for educational purposes. A couple of weeks later, she is arrested for underage drinking. The police learn of her immigration status and she is detained by ICE. What happens next?
In Aliya’s case, she is a considered an “unaccompanied minor.” Although she is in the care of family friends, she is without a parent or legal guardian. As an unaccompanied minor, Aliya will be transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, who will care for her until the government can find an alternative placement or her removal proceedings begin.
The removal proceedings for a minor are similar to an adult’s. Aliya will have to face a judge and explain her situation. It will be up to the judge to decide whether Aliya should be deported or can stay in the country. The only difference is how the court proceeds — it may be more of a casual atmosphere. The judge may not be wearing robes, for example, or there are more breaks. Aliya may even get a tour of the courtroom before the hearing.
There are some defenses Aliya can use to prevent deportation:
- She may be eligible for “Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.” This is granted to minors if it’s been found that returning home is not in the child’s best interest or being reunited with his/her family is impossible because of abuse, abandonment, neglect, or for another reason.
- She could receive a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The DACA allows minors to apply for temporary permission to live and work in the U.S. for approximately two years.
- If she is not able to receive a DACA, then Aliya could request prosecutorial discretion. This means the ICE will close the case if it’s considered a low priority. However, this does not mean Aliya is legally allowed in the country.
- She can apply for asylum. There are special procedures to follow for an unaccompanied minor and it will be heard outside of Immigration Court. If the officer doesn’t grant the application, the minor has the option to apply in court and have the judge hear her request.
And like adults, minors awaiting removal proceedings can receive an immigration bond. If you have a loved one in detention and need to bail him/her out, we’re here to help. Contact Freedom Federal Bonding Agency today for more information.