Immigration Courts: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

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America’s dysfunctional immigration court system forces many children to appear in court alone. That’s as ridiculous in real life as it would be on a courtroom television show.
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[music]. course you know the place where millions . of americans end up every year after . making a large squirrel talk to ceo . of a coal company just center about . judicial system they are the backbone of . daytime tv the college student to bring . system mommy judy don't get me preaching . up in here today you're watching the . verdict with judge hatchett a show . that's making a difference you need to . be sober seven days a week for turn any . court i know cuz i'm not stupid . that you're a liar then and you're a . liar now the people's court pack of dogs . draw blood this is a confession this is . a no dog i've had all my shots hot bitch . now i know that looks like a fun episode . of hot bench but but you should know . that cute dog actually confessed to . murdering 14 people in the pacific . northwest so it's not quite as fun as . they just made it look but tonight we're . gonna focus on a type of justice then . you don't get to watch on tv and it . concerns immigration courts they're one . of those things you may not know much . about but are actually hugely important . to a significant number of people like . gefilte fish or the insane clown posse. now in recent months you may have seen . multiple stories of ice agents raiding . workplaces and hauling people away and . while those stories are horrifying and . grab all the attention the place many of . those people end up immigration courts . are no less troubling there are around . sixty of them all over the country and . hundreds of thousands of people go . through them every year . pleading their case against deportation. so they are hugely consequential and the . stakes in these cases can be incredibly . high as one girl awaiting a hearing can. attest what'd happen if we sent you home . they're gonna kill me they're gonna . they're gonna kill me and they're gonna . kill my family that's horrible because . no child should have to worry about . whether they're going to be murdered the . biggest thing they should be worrying . about oh are whether they can sit with . the cool kids while they eat their tide . pods and how they can please slenderman . and that last one is obviously . ridiculous because remember kids . slenderman already loves you just the . way you are. so this is a critical potentially. life-and-death process sadly the system . is a complete mess and don't take that . from me take that from multiple current . and former immigration court judges i . think most people would be incredulous . at what really happens in immigration . court and which sometimes passes for due . process our courts today are . dysfunctional in essence we're doing . death penalty cases in a traffic court . setting death penalty cases in traffic . court that is something we probably . shouldn't be doing in a place that we . definitely shouldn't be doing it like . having a cockfight in an emergency room . or doing coke in a build-a-bear workshop . it's a crazy idea it gets stuck in the . bears hair it's completely inefficient . so so how did this system get so broken . well let's start with the fact that a . surgeon immigration from central america . wrapped up immigration enforcement and a . glacial rate of hiring judges have . combined to create a truly massive . backlog of cases more than six hundred . and seventeen thousand immigration cases . are now backlogged that number has more . than doubled since 2009 the mayo . silverado it's as if they have forgotten . us is under this one of the watermelon . immigrants waiting for his hearing in . san francisco where the average wait . time is three years in miami the wait is . about a year and a half and it's much . worse in cities like san antonio atlanta . and chicago that's true the estimated . wait time in chicago is five years and . if you are stuck in that line that's not . good for your case because evidence for . your plane can become stale and. witnesses who could help you can . disappear or die and yet over 600,000 . cases have piled up endlessly like bed . bath and beyond coupons new yorker . magazines and dvr'd episodes of ken . burns's vietnam documentary yeah i know . it's good but i'm just never in the mood . and i never ever will be ever ever ever . ever but . issues the issues go much deeper than . just long wait times because while . immigration courts have the trappings of . a criminal court you can wind up there . from an arrest you can be detained . awaiting your hearing and you're arguing . against the government there are . actually civil courts because this is . not a criminal trial their only task is . deciding whether or not you can stay in . the country that's it so a lot of things . that you might assume someone in these . courts would have access to they don't . and the first big one is this. unlike criminal court in immigration . court the federal government is not . required to provide lawyers to . defendants who cannot afford them . exactly if you can't afford a lawyer you . have to defend yourself which is clearly . a terrible idea . think of an immigration hearing like . surgery you can try and do it yourself . but if you ever want to see your . family again maybe try and get a . professional to help you and troublingly . only 37 percent of immigrants in these . courts have counsel meaning the majority . of them are appearing in front of the . judge without a lawyer and some in . particular really need one many of the . undocumented children that walk into the . immigration court house don't have an . attorney and must represent themselves . there's children from two years old to . 17 years old who are appearing by . themselves who are sitting there without . a clue about what's happening that's . just clearly ridiculous because you . cannot let a two-year-old to be . unsupervised in court you can't even let . her two-year-old be unsupervised in a . bouncy castle they're gonna come out . covered in glitter holding a broken beer . bottle and a dead bird how did they get . them in there who knows the point is . they can't be left alone for a second . and that bird has already been in their . mouth it just has you have to deal with . that reality and while sending kids into . court without representation might seem. crazy to you amazingly some judges are . apparently fine with it. because when a lawsuit was filed arguing. all kids need lawyers jack while an . assistant chief immigration judge . suggested that's not necessarily the . case i've taught immigration law just . literally two three-year-olds and . four-year-olds . takes a lot of time it takes a lot of . patience they get it it's not the most . efficient but but it can be done no it . can't. you can't teach immigration law to a . three-year-old you can't even explain to . a child that age the elmo isn't his best . friend elmo's not only a puppet he's a . celebrity he's never even heard of you . your relationship is completely . asymmetrical one immigration lawyer . actually put judge wilds whole three . year-olds theory to the test in what is . perhaps the single greatest mock trial . ever recorded and do you speak english . as your native language . [music]. i like your balloon - what is your best . language where were you born. i read mommy in suits so do you feel . like you can go ahead and represent . yourself in immigration court to . determine your nationality uh-huh all . right are you excited to do it yeah of . course she's excited she knows all the . most important legal principles if i . like my balloon you mustn't deport soon . and if i place a tie over fairies. together with the asylum that lawyer . actually did a series of videos with . kids and they are all great but my . favorite is this one if you were removed . would you like to designate a country of. removal yeah okay what country would . that be. yeah oh yeah you laugh now but it won't . be so cute when that girl is deported . back to papa john's because it's . technically pizza and that is exactly . why these children need lawyers but the . truth is whether you have a lawyer or . not your odds of success to a . frightening degree may be dictated by. where you are in san francisco . immigrants are deported in 36% of cases. in charlotte the number jumps to 84% in . new york city only 24% of cases result . in deportation in atlanta the rate is . almost 90 percent i'm look while the . merits of every case are different that . is an alarming disparity between courts . normally the only thing that should . varied that much by region is the rate . of jeff dunham fans per capita and . regardless of where you are in either . case that number should never be as high . as 90% and the final quirk of this . system is that immigration courts are . not nearly as independent as they should . be because while you might assume that . they be part of the judicial branch . immigration courts are actually part of . the executive branch specifically . they're run by the doj making them . subject to shifting political priorities . so for instance right now the boss of . all these judges is this man jeff . sessions the only cabinet member allowed . to fly as a lap infant on a domestic. flight and he has made it pretty clear . what his priorities are for those that . continue to seek improper and illegal . entry into this country be forewarned . this is a new era . this is the trop era you know it's a . very specific type of person who grins . when saying the words the trump era it's . basically people with trump's name . people with trump's hats and the one . person in america is still getting a . kick out of cough fa hey i don't agree . with everything the guy says but boy we . had some laughs because it's not a word . confer fades not a word that that's why . it's funny. that's odds priceless . and sessions the thing is sessions has a. weird amount of power over immigration . courts he can refer cases to himself . which basically means stepping in and . personally reviewing d
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