United States

San Francisco Lawyers File Lawsuit on Behalf of Undocumented Children Seeking Asylum

San Francisco lawyers are taking the U.S. government to court over the issue of unaccompanied minors and demanding a level playing field before the government decides who can stay in this country and who will be deported.

Some attorneys argue the government is violating the due process clause of the constitution when dealing with unaccompanied minors — children seeking asylum from violence and poverty in their Latin American home countries.

"Most of these people are seeking asylum because they're fleeing difficult situations," said Carol Bisharat with the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights of San Francisco.

The group alleges the federal government is rushing cases through the court system without giving the children adequate time to prepare their arguments as to why they cannot go back home.

The United States Attorney's Office did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Sometimes the unaccompanied minors, who are unable to hire a lawyer, have to make their case on their own against government lawyers. According to the lawyer's committee, eight out of every nine minors end up being deported.

The lawyers, in response, filed a claim, which would force the government to release any document defining the policies for dealing with these cases.

They said the government seems to be ruling on such cases arbitrarily, with decisions varying from case to case.

"We want equal information as the government has," said Travis Silva with the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights. "We want an equal playing field for our clients."

Members of the lawyer's committee said they want to know what they are up against when representing these children in court. The group hopes the lawsuit will lead to answers.

"We're asking the court to force the government to this information over as soon as possible," Silva said.

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