Comment of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee, On the “Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2016”

[Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is cosponsoring Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) “Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2016,” which was introduced today.  The bill ensures due process for children and vulnerable individuals in immigration proceedings by providing for the appointment of counsel, ensuring the availability of legal orientation programs, and creating a case management pilot project to increase appearance rates in immigration court.  Last month, Leahy led a letter to President Obama about protecting vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, and ensuring meaningful due process and access to counsel.]

“Our immigration system is extremely complex.  It is unacceptable that we expect children and those with little education, who do not speak English and have suffered extreme trauma, to navigate it without legal guidance.  The risks faced for these vulnerable individuals are life-threatening and warrant extra care.  That is why meaningful due process must include access to counsel.  We cannot return refugees and asylum seekers, fleeing horrific violence and suffering, right back into the hands of their persecutors.”

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