Immigration Judge Embarrassed As 1-Year Old Baby Was Brought To Defend Himself In Court, Crying Hysterically
On Friday, a year-old baby boy in federal custody was brought to an immigration court without his parents in Phoenix, leaving the judge felling “embarrassed” as he had no choice to proceed with the case.
While in court, the child briefly played with a ball, drank from a bottle, then “cried hysterically” as he was about to leave the courtroom, the Associated Press reports.
The boy was eventually granted a “voluntary departure order” so the government can fly him to Honduras, where his father has already been sent.
The little boy, identified in court only as Johan, was one of several children who appeared in the Arizona court Friday without parents. One boy held up five fingers when the judge asked him his age, according to the AP.
Judge John Richardson said he was “embarrassed to ask” if Johan understood the proceedings, said AP. “I don’t know who you would explain it to, unless you think that a 1-year-old could learn immigration law,” he told Johan’s attorney.
Immigration advocates have complained about children in court, calling it stressful and frightening. There are no physical accommodations for children, many of whom can’t even see over defense tables without booster seats.
“There are no booster seats … no teddy bears. It’s a cold immigration court, and these kids are sitting in chairs that are too big for them; their feet don’t even touch the floor,” immigration attorney Lindsay Toczlowski explained last month on CNN.
Johan was separated at the U.S. border from his dad under Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy.
Trump countermanded his own separation policy with an executive order he signed June 20. But now his administration is under court order to reunite children with families.
Some 3,000 migrant children remain in government custody after being separated from their parents, and 100 of them are under the age of 5, according to HHS. The New York Times has reported that some records on the separated families have been lost or even destroyed, raising the possibility that some children may never be reunited with their families. In addition, the U.S. has already deported at least 19 parents of children under the age of 5 and in federal custody.
A federal judge in San Diego ordered the Trump administration to reunite children with their parents within 14 days for children under the age of 5, and within 30 days for older children. The first deadline is July 10.