An eight-year-old Guatemalan boy named Pedro was ripped away from his dad as they attempted to enter the United States. Pedro was one of the first children to be separated from their parent by the Trump administration and now the little boy is expected to represent himself in court.
Pedro and his father attempted to cross the Arizona border in July 2017 where they were apprehended by five immigration officers, according to The New Yorker.
The report claims that the little boy watched as the officers violently tossed his father to the ground and “stomped on him.”
Jennifer Anzardo Valdes, the director of the Children’s Legal Program at Americans for Immigrant Justice tells The New Yorker, “He vividly recalls the separation. It’s haunting him—how he screamed and cried and how his father was ripped away without any explanation whatsoever… All he understood was that he wasn’t going to see his father again.”
Authorities eventually found Pedro’s aunt and placed him in her custody in South Florida. Now, Trump’s administration has filed removal paperwork against Pedro. Because immigrant children have no legal right to public counsel, Pedro is expected to represent himself in court.
The lack of legal support for immigrant children has led ActBlue.com to set up a portal where donations can be given for various organizations that are helping scared and confused children find legal representation and other needed support.
Without a parent to explain why they fled their homeland, many children are left confused and without a valid argument to seek asylum. These children are at risk of being sent back to a country they fled without any plans to reunite them with an adult to care for them when they return.
The ACLU has fought for legal representation for immigrant children but a federal appeals court in California ruled that such efforts would not be allowed.
“The panel held that it is not established law that alien minors are categorically entitled to government-funded, court-appointed counsel,” wrote Judge Consuelo Callahan.
“If allowed to stand, the decision means that thousands of refugee children felling persecution will never get a fair day in court for their claims of asylum,” Ahilan Arulanantham, the lead attorney and legal director for the ACLU of Southern California, told CNN in January 2018.
For now, a scared little boy in South Florida will possibly be forced to stand before a judge who doesn’t speak his language while attempting to explain through an interpreter, why he would be allowed to stay with his aunt in Florida.