Re “Central America’s Migrant Crisis” (editorial, June 16):
President Obama’s request for $1 billion for Central America is vital to address the root causes of the continuing historic migration of children, and must include a strong focus on human development, as well as security.
Because of the United States’ long neglect of the region, this will take time. The still significant number of children who continue to flee their home countries alone and make it to the United States need protection now, however. The majority face return from the United States to the violence and instability they fled because they do not have attorneys to represent them in their deportation proceedings.
It is nearly impossible for children to navigate our complex immigration system without counsel. Because the government has fast-tracked these children’s cases to the top of the dockets around the country, it is even more difficult for them to find an attorney in time for their hearings and to prepare their cases.
Providing adequate funding to change conditions in these countries is unquestionably the investment we need to make, but there is much we can do now for the children who are already here. That starts with basic due process, including full and fair hearings with representation, to ensure that we are not sending children back to the very harm we are trying to address.
President, Kids in Need of Defense