Lawmakers in California are trying to pass two bills to provide undocumented immigrant minors with legal counsel when they go to immigration court. Senate Bill 873 and California Assembly Bill 1477 would supply $3m to non-profit organizations that provide assistance to undocumented minors and grant these minors ‘special immigrant juvenile status’ to expedite the process of naturalization and reinforce their ability to access interpreters.
“With these bills we’re making it clear California wants unaccompanied immigrant children treated as children,” says Toni Atkins, the speaker of the California Assembly, adding: “While no longer in the headlines, the humanitarian crisis that has brought so many children to our country continues. While the root causes of this crisis are being addressed, these victimized children deserve to be treated with kindness and justice.”
Assemblyman Luis Alejo says that the recent influx of underage immigrants puts a moral issue in the hands of the US that is about more than the standard arguments over the nation’s immigration system.
Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal says that the children’s human rights are being protected by the new bills, while Assemblyman Rob Bonta pointed out that thousands of these undocumented immigrant minors are scared and that their rights must be protected so that due process can decide whether they have the right to remain in the United States. The $3m legislation can be passed without any Republican votes.