By Ryan Kocian, Courthouse News Service
AUSTIN, Texas (CN) – A federal class action claims that immigration officials illegally deny the Special Immigrant Juvenile applications of abused and neglected refugee children by saying they are no longer children, though the Texas Family Code says they are.
Deepak Budhathoki et al. sued the Department of Homeland Security, DHS Director Jeh Johnson, Citizenship and Immigration Service Director Leon Rodriguez, and USCIS San Antonio Field Office Director Mario R. Ortiz on Tuesday, under the Administrative Procedure Act.
David Walding, director of the Bernard Kohler Center, which represents the plaintiffs, told Courthouse News the legal violations stem from the federal government’s efforts to deport Central American children, who have fled to the United States in increasing numbers due to violence from police and criminal gangs.
Immigration agencies have expedited children’s cases since at least 2014, Walding said.
The drive to deport child refugees reached ridiculous proportions last week when the Washington Post and Boston Globe revealed that a senior official in the Department of Justice said that 3- and 4-year-old children can learn enough immigration law to represent themselves in court.
Jack H. Weil, a longtime immigration judge who now trains other immigration judges, made the comments in a deposition for a federal case in Seattle.
“I’ve taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds,” Weil said. “It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience. They get it. It’s not the most efficient, but it can be done,” according to…