在經濟不景氣一文裡我提到Jonathan﹝假名﹞的故事。Jonathan是印地安原住民，他偷渡入境美國，在邊境被抓，被拘於少年中心裡大半年。在少年中心裡他的精神每下愈況，有自殺與逃跑記錄。最後他成為我的pro bono client，我幫他爭取到免費遣返瓜地馬拉，不用留下犯罪記錄，並且請當地的組織補助他的家庭。
A Champion of Unaccompanied Children in the United States
When return is the only option
Jaime came to the United States from Guatemala in August 2008, when he was 17 years old. Jaime was one of 9 children in a very poor family that often went hungry. Jaime’s father’s job in the sugar cane fields was insufficient to support the family and his mother was often ill; at times, the father had to take her to the hospital and attend to her medical needs, which meant the loss of his meager income.
Jaime has worked since he was 7 years old. When he was 16, his father told him that he had to go to the United States because the family could no longer support him. Jaime’s father borrowed money to pay coyotes who took Jaime to the Arizona desert and abandoned him. Jaime was found by Border Patrol and put into US custody, where he became depressed. Because of his fragile mental state, Jaime was not eligible for foster care and was moved to a shelter where he was not allowed to leave the building to attend public school.
After many hours of work on the case, 合夥人, associate 麥可青蛙 and Jaime realized that voluntary departure was the only option. Voluntary departure permits a child to leave the U.S. within a designated amount of time in order to avoid a deportation order and allows a child to return to U.S. in the future, should he or she have a legal way of doing so, without encountering bars to admission that normally apply to someone who departs the U.S. under a final order of removal. In addition, because of a change to US immigration laws last year, the US government will also pay for Jaime’s trip home, an essential factor since the vast majority of unaccompanied children lack the resources to finance their trips home by themselves.
“It is vital for children to have lawyers in voluntary departure cases to help the child understand what is happening. Children, particularly foreign children, should not have to appear in court or navigate the complex U.S. immigration system alone, regardless of their form of relief,” 麥可青蛙 said.