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

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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