[JURIST] The Center for Public Policy Priorities [advocacy website] said Thursday that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] does not do enough to protect the rights and welfare of minors who have entered the country illegally. In a new report [text, PDF; press release, PDF] the group estimated that 43,000 undocumented, unaccompanied minors are removed from the US each year, and criticized DHS for a lack of consistent policies on removal hearings for and subsequent repatriation of the children. The group said unaccompanied minors in US custody are often mistreated by Border Patrol [official website] officers, not given sufficient access to protective services, denied access to legal counsel or their county's consulate, and are often transported back to their countries of origin in unsafe conditions. The group also said that the children often face unsafe conditions upon repatriation. It called on the US to develop stronger and more consistent policies to protect the minors, both while in the US and once returned to their home countries. AP has more.
The report comes as the US is increasing the number of undocumented aliens that it prosecutes or deports and is receiving other criticism for its treatment of the immigrants. Earlier this month, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website], a branch of DHS, reported [JURIST report] deporting a record 349,041 immigrants during the 2008 fiscal year. In June, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University reported that US immigration prosecutions hit record levels [JURIST report] early this year. In July, lawyers and professors testified [hearing materials; JURIST report] before the US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary [official website] that the government violated the due process rights of 389 illegal immigrants arrested [JURIST report] in a raid at an Agriprocessors Inc. [corporate website] meatpacking plant in Iowa this past May.