November 30, 2022

Jeff Sessions just ordered American judges to be crueller to unaccompanied migrant children

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For a party that has made a credo out of protecting unborn children, the Republicans seem to be equally adamant about abandoning them once they are born.


The latest example of this truism comes in the form of a memo issued just a few days ago by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) regarding how to handle unaccompanied children in the country illegally and facing deportation procedures.

The new memo outlines policies to replace those from 2007, eliminating guidelines for handling “child-sensitive questioning” and replacing them with admonitions to judges that they must remain impartial despite the fact that “juvenile cases may present sympathetic allegations.”

Apparently, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, a division of the Justice Department that ultimately reports into Attorney General Jeff Sessions, would like the judges to check their hearts at the door when they arrive for work.

To make it easier for the judges to ignore the age of the children before them, the memo substitutes the phrase “unmarried individual under the age of 18” for the word “child” throughout the document.

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According to Reuters, an official at the EOIR described the new guidelines as “clarifications and updates” to the older rules “in order to be consistent with the laws as they’ve been passed by Congress.”

Response to the memo from both immigration advocates and judges has been aghast, with the union representing the immigration judges declaring that they are “concerned about the tone of the memo” which urges judges to be skeptical because a solitary child  “generally receives more favorable treatment under the law than other categories of illegal aliens” and creates “an incentive to misrepresent accompaniment status or age in order to attempt to qualify for the benefits.” It also warns judges to be wary of signs of “fraud and abuse.”

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Dana Marks, the immigration judges union spokesperson, said:

“There is a feeling that the immigration courts are just being demoted into immigration enforcement offices, rather than neutral arbiters. There has been a relentless beating of the drum toward enforcement rather than due process.”

The Trump administration, with Attorney General Sessions leading the charge, has been pursuing their paranoid anti-immigrant agenda with a special focus on the unaccompanied children escaping violence in their home countries in Central America.

In a speech in September, Session singled out the special accommodations being offered to these lone minors as being exploited by “gang members who come to this country as wolves in sheep clothing.”

Sessions’ fairy-tale language belies his portrayal of these children not as innocent refugees but as “adolescent gang members” or “a teenager convicted as an adult for serious criminal activity.”

Republicans wonder why they have a reputation as the party of cruel, heartless ideologues. By continuing to issue policies that are anti-children, anti-women, and anti-anything-but-white-male, they continue to burnish that reputation in spades.

Vinnie Longobardo

is the Managing Editor of Washington Press and a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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