Monday, March 7, 2016
Former IJ Klein Denounces IJ Weil's Contention that Toddlers Can Represent Themselves in Immigration Proceedings
Eliza Klein served as an immigration judge between 1996 and 2011. As such she's in a unique position to comment on the recent revelation that current IJ Jack. H. Weil has said that toddlers are fully capable of representing themselves in immigration proceedings.
Writing for the ILW blog, Klein notes:
No rational person actually believes a three year old can understand immigration laws of the United States. The law itself is incredibly complex, sometimes contradictory, and in many respects incomprehensible. Judge Jack Weil is not only intelligent and well-versed in conducting immigration hearings, he has raised several children. So what could he have meant? In the context of the deposition, he must have meant that it is possible to provide a fair hearing to a three year old who does not have an adult to speak for her, and who does not have a lawyer. If that is what he meant, it is almost equally ludicrous.
Due process requires both fairness and impartiality. To actually benefit from due process, a person must have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the hearing - in a nutshell, to be heard. There must be an understanding of what information is operative, and an ability to convey that information in an understandable manner.
Klein concludes that Weil's testimony reveals that the EOIR has "lost sight of its mission," which is to "fairly, expeditiously, and uniformly interpreting and administering the Nation's immigration laws.” Instead, Klein charges, the agency seems bent on complying with the President's mission to remove "as rapidly as" "those that succeed in reaching the border in order to dissuade others from coming."
It's a damning indictment of current enforcement policies.