June 1, 2016 _Washington D.C _ CASA officials demanded a thorough review of the asylum granting process for unaccompanied minors Wednesday, following a story by the Associated Press which showed a shockingly disproportionate rate of accepted applications depending on which city the children applied.
According to a story by the Associated Press, unaccompanied minors who are detained and seek asylum are more likely to be allowed to stay if they apply at federal offices in California rather than in Texas or Illinois.
Data uncovered today shows that 86 percent of minors who applied for asylum at the San Francisco office were granted their request as opposed to 15 percent of children in Chicago.
“Justice should not be a game of lottery,” said CASA’s Executive Director Gustavo Torres. “These children are going before immigration authorities not knowing their rights and are literally putting their lives in their hands. It is immoral and wrong that local anti-immigrant sentiment and the lack of proper legal representation are playing such a large role on whether these children are granted asylum or not.”
Data shows that in areas with higher anti-immigrant public opinion, unaccompanied minors were less likely to be given a chance to stay. Also, in California, which has funded immigration attorneys to represent unaccompanied minors when they go before asylum officers, children had better chances.
Torres said the federal government should provide funds so that unaccompanied minors throughout the country receive proper legal representation.
Children, some as young as 5 years old, are coming to the United States from violence-ridden countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and in many cases fleeing for their safety.
“These youngsters are refugees. They are leaving because of violence and gangs and they are trying to save their lives,” he said. “We’re putting their lives at risk by sending them back.”
While acceptance rates varied widely in California, Texas and Illinois, the asylum offices in New York, Miami, Newark, New Jersey and Arlington, Virginia, had approval rates of 20 to 30 percent.
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CONTACT FERNANDA DURAND
Communications Manager – CASA
CASA is the foremost Latino and immigrant organization in the mid-Atlantic region and a national leader in building power and improving the quality of life in low-income Latino and immigrant communities. Over its 30-year history CASA has established itself as a strong national leader in innovations for Latino and immigrant-focused services, and backbone organization for collective impact involving community-based, government and private partners.