The Immigration Court Efficiency and Children’s Court Act of 2023, a rare bipartisan bill, was introduced in the Senate this week. It aims to assist around 62,000 children with pending cases, who crossed the border without a parent, by expediting the process and providing training for court personnel. Some children lack legal representation and must defend themselves against deportation.
The main goals include creating child-only case dockets to reduce backlogs and connecting children, some now adults, with legal organizations and advocates. While the bill doesn’t guarantee legal representation (reserved for U.S. citizens), it hopes to reduce delays by offering legal or advocate support early in the process. The bill also provides special training for immigration judges to treat children appropriately for their developmental age.
“Navigating the immigration court system can be challenging, but even more so for unaccompanied children,” said Mary Smith, President, American Bar Association. “The American Bar Association supports this effort to ensure that vulnerable children have their cases adjudicated fairly, in an environment that is sensitive to their special needs, while enhancing the efficiency of immigration courts.”