“Rare Bipartisan Bill on Immigration” Would Protect Migrant Children, Address Immigration Court Backlog

Denver — In case you missed it, here’s what people are saying about Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet’s bipartisan, bicameral bill to combat immigration court backlogs and strengthen due process rights for unaccompanied migrant children:

NBC News: Bipartisan bill would provide kids-only immigration courts for migrant children

“A rare bipartisan bill on immigration aims to make the immigration court system friendlier and more navigable for unaccompanied migrant children." 

“Bennet said the bill aims to make the process not just more humane for children, but more efficient, too. If children are connected with lawyers earlier in the process, fewer cases will be delayed. And if judges can focus on children-only dockets, the bill drafters argue, it would “combat the immigration court backlog,” which stands at over 2.7 million cases. 

“Bennet said he is hopeful the bill will pass because it has already achieved the status of being both bipartisan and bicameral, a rare feat for legislation in the current political climate, especially on the issue of immigration. But, he said, regardless of whether the bill passes, the U.S. needs more immigration judges to address the backlog of pending cases.”

The Hill: Bipartisan legislation seeks to create children’s immigration court

“A bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators introduced a bill Wednesday that would add protections for minors to immigration courts, which currently have no distinct protocols to process children.”

“EOIR proceedings are unlike criminal proceedings in several ways, including that foreign nationals in immigration proceedings are not legally entitled to representation. 

“Because of that, they are often forced to represent themselves against government lawyers in complex legal matters where the burden of proof is often on the immigrant. 

“That’s led to cases like a 2018 proceeding where a Honduran 5-year-old signed a document waiving her right to a bond hearing.”

News Nation Now: New bill would create children’s immigration court

“Foreign nationals do not have the same constitutional right to a lawyer as U.S. citizens, and migrant children are often left to represent themselves. Kids as young as 5 years old have signed documents waiving their rights.

“The legislation aims to increase coordination with legal services organizations that would work with the court to help children obtain counsel faster and more efficiently.” 

On FOX News’ Special Report with Bret Baier, Bennet said:

“I think it's an amazing thing that we have a bipartisan bill that reflects both the Senate and the House for once, and I think it’s because we know we have kids that are at stake here. As I mentioned earlier, my mom was separated from her parents for three years during the Holocaust. These have lifetime effects on kids, and all we're saying is, let's have judges that actually have experience with kids at the border to make sure that they're actually getting into the situations they need to, instead of subjecting them to child trafficking or to child labor. 

“I believe we should resolve the situation for the 11 million people here that are undocumented. I believe that we should have a secure border. I was part of the Gang of Eight in 2013 who wrote the last comprehensive bill that did get 68 votes in the Senate, and I think the country in many ways would be a better place if we had been able to get that through the House of Representatives because we wouldn't have left all these political questions unresolved. We wouldn't have all these people in America living in the shadows, driving down wages, because we haven't been able to get our act together here. Maybe if we can get one piece of business done together, it can show people other things that we can also get done.”

On MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart Reports, correspondent Julia Ainsley said: 

“Jose, you and I both know how long it’s been since there was anything bipartisan on immigration in Congress, but this bill does have some hope. It would include a childrens-only docket for unaccompanied children that came to the United States without a parent or guardian so that when they go to immigration court, they’re put in a courtroom with other children in front of a judge that’s been trained specifically for them, and it would allow legal advocacy groups to know where to go on what days and what schedule if they’re trying to find children that aren’t represented.

“As you know, many if not most of these children go before these judges without any legal representation. Sometimes they can be as young as not even being verbal yet. To try and navigate the immigration system even for an adult can be complex. For these children, it can be nearly impossible. And they found that with legal representation, navigating that and winning their asylum cases can be much easier.” 

In the Washington Post Early 202 newsletter on November 1: 

“New bipartisan, bicameral legislation introduced today would attempt to better attend to the backlog of unaccompanied minors in the immigration system who are waiting for court hearings.”

“The children would appear before judges with training in child trafficking and trauma. The courts would provide resources to help the children understand the proceedings and work closely with legal aid organizations."

In POLITICO Playbook on November 1: 

“Bipartisan and bicameral immigration initiatives are few and far between these days, so today’s introduction of the Immigration Court Efficiency and Children’s Court Act is notable. The bill aims to improve the treatment of unaccompanied migrant children by creating a new “children’s court” and setting new standards and protocols for its operation.”