The Hill Runs Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Op-Ed on Children in the US Immigration System


“Children are not little adults in immigration court,” an opinion piece by Akin senior advisor Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, has been published by The Hill.

Ileana, who served for almost three decades as a member of Congress representing a congressional district in South Florida and is herself an immigrant, writes, “The complexity of the system is difficult for adults to navigate, but for children, particularly unaccompanied children, it is nearly impossible.”

She enumerates the challenges facing children, including the fact that unaccompanied children “are placed into removal proceedings in an adversarial immigration court system that was designed for adults and mostly does not recognize their age, developmental level or vulnerability.”

She writes that, during her time in Congress, she “worked with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to pursue common-sense legislation to improve our immigration system — changes that would create secure and orderly processes and would protect the most vulnerable, including children.”

Ileana—who is a member of the Leadership Council of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), which advocates for the protection of unaccompanied children—notes that she supports “pragmatic solutions” such as the bipartisan Immigration Court Efficiency and Children’s Court Act, which, she says, “would create more appropriate trial settings for unaccompanied children to ensure they receive a fair day in court…” resulting in a “more streamlined, orderly and fair system that mirrors best practices in the adjudication of children’s cases in all other legal contexts.”

To read the full op-ed, click here.

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