The immigration crisis on the U.S. border just got personal for a non-profit based in Seattle. The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project is suing the federal government on behalf of thousands of children now facing deportation.
The original lawsuit was filed in early July, but the legal battle took another twist this week.
Late Thursday, the organization joined the ACLU and several other advocacy groups in filing an injunction asking a federal court to immediately block the government from pursuing deportation proceedings against immigrant children, unless they are ensured an attorney working in their corner.
"Our constitution guarantees every person who is here a fair hearing," said Matt Adams with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. "And so, while the law might ultimately require a child be deported, they must have a chance to present their defenses or opportunity for relief. Some children qualify for political asylum because they're refugees, others might qualify for family visas because a parent has legal status."
The injunction was filed on behalf of a small group of child immigrants, five of which are currently in Washington State. One of them is just ten years old.
"This ten-year-old is expected to go into court and present his defense, present his application for relief, it's absurd," said Adams.
Adams says they also hope to establish a larger class action case on behalf of thousands of immigrant children facing deportation throughout the country.
The push comes as the immigration courts are speeding up deportation hearings, and as Democrats and Republicans in Washington, D.C. debate, among other things, whether attorneys should be provided to those children at the expense of the U.S. government.