Yet More Evidence of our Broken Immigration System
On Friday, the ACLU posted a transcript of the deposition in that case in which Weil asserted that toddlers can represent themselves in his court.
“Are you aware of any experts in child psychology or comparable experts who agree with the assessment that 3- and 4-year-olds can be taught immigration law?” Ahilan Arulanantham, a Los Angeles-based deputy legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, asked Weil during the deposition in October.
“I haven’t read any studies one way or another,” Weil said, according to the transcript.
“What about like a 1-year-old?” Arulanantham said.
“I mean, I think there’s a point that there has to be communication,” Weil said.
But he later maintained: “I have trained 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds in immigration law. You can do a fair hearing.”
Weil went on to note: “It’s going to take you a lot of time. But I really think that a great alternative to terminating a case for a child who may be eligible for relief where there’s no counsel is to proceed very slowly, very carefully, and I’m going to tap every single resource I can to see if I can get the some help.”
“By help, you mean counsel?” Arulanantham said.
“Counsel allows me to be effective. They allow me to be efficient,” Weil said, but without an attorney for the child, “I can trudge on.”
The judge maintains that the comments have been taken out of context and a generous reading of his statement could lead one to the conclusion that he is sincerely trying to help these children.
However, even the most generous of interpretation means that we have toddlers facing immigration judges without the benefit of counsel. This is, in my estimation, bad enough (indeed, unjust) for an adult, but strikes me are utterly stunning and unconscionable for a toddler.