Congressman Beyer Says Migrant Children Should Be Provided With Lawyers

Jun 28, 2018

Rep. Don Beyer and other lawmakers speak to reporters outside the Immigration Court in Arlington.
Credit Michael Pope

The crisis at the border is still playing out in courtrooms across the country, including many immigration courts here in Virginia.

Children as young as three and four years old are not just without their parents after being separated from their families. They’re also without lawyers. After observing the immigration court in his district, Congressman Don Beyer said the U.S. government should provide all these children with lawyers.

“The kids with lawyers end up with 91 percent positive outcomes, and the kids without lawyers end up with 58 percent positive outcomes. So without a lawyer you’re much more likely to be shipped overseas. These kids don’t know how to make the case for asylum all by themselves.”

But that’s exactly what’s happening in courtrooms across the country. Beyer led a delegation of lawmakers for a tour of the courthouse that included House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

“Some of these kids that are being asked to come into court to respond to the charges brought against them or to respond as to why they need sanctuary, they’re not old enough to spell their own names.”

Democrats are pressing the House Republican leadership to pass the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act, requiring the government to appoint counsel to children.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.