Heartbreaking video shows immigrant children being forced to testify alone in US court
ALYSSA Milano has shared a heartbreaking video of immigrant toddlers being forced to defend themselves in court.
“Oh my f***ing, God. Oh my f***ing, God. Oh my f***ing, God. Stop what you’re doing and watch this,” she wrote on Twitter. “If you’re ok with this unfollow me because you have no heart.”
The video — which was originally posted by Now This — shows children as young as three attempting to testify before a judge for their right to remain in the United States.
In one scene, a judge asks a small boy if he knows what a lawyer is, and he shakes his head.
In another, the same judge asks a girl if she’s a little nervous this morning. “Si,” she responds.
While the video is obviously staged — filming of court proceedings is not allowed — filmmaker Linda Freedman said the content was based on immigration hearings she attended, interviews with pro-bono attorneys and others who had experience with unaccompanied children.
“In recent years the number of unaccompanied immigrant children migrating to the United States has nearly tripled and they have no representation or legal counsel, leaving them vulnerable and alone,” she said.
The inspiration for the film came from the treatment of immigrant children she’s witnessed over the past four years — under both the Trump and Obama administrations.
Migrant children as young as three years old have reportedly been forced to appear in court for their own deportation proceedings.
Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center in Los Angeles told the Texas Tribune: “We were representing a three-year-old in court recently who had been separated from the parents. And the child — in the middle of the hearing — started climbing up on the table.
“It really highlighted the absurdity of what we’re doing with these kids.”
She said parents are generally tried along with young children and made to explain the circumstances that have led to them to seek asylum in the US.
But the children being detained under the “zero tolerance” policy are facing immigration proceedings without their parents by their side.
“The parent might be the only one who knows why they fled from the home country, and the child is in a disadvantageous position to defend themselves,” Ms Toczylowski said.
Under US law, children arrested for illegally entering the country have no right to a court-appointed lawyer, no access to interpreters — despite the fact that many don’t speak English — and no way to contact or communicate with a lawyer.