NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — About 30 immigrant children caught alone at the Mexican border are appearing one by one in a Manhattan courtroom Wednesday.
As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported, it’s the first day of the Obama administration’s effort to deal with the surge of cases quickly.
“There are a lot of these kids who’ve already survived trauma and don’t know what’s going to happen to them,” said Jojo Annobil with the Legal Aid Society, one of the groups counseling the kids on their rights and helping them find lawyers since the administration’s pushing the cases into court quicker than usual.
“They’re making sure that they have an opportunity to tell their stories,” Annobil said.
Among those in the tiny courtroom jammed wall to wall with nervous kids and anxious family members was Andy, who looks no older than 12. He was detained by Border Patrol in McAllen, Texas.
The kids heard Judge James Loprest through a translator at Federal Plaza, but his voice was calming, with his shirt sleeves rolled up and a smile on his face.
He thanked a teenage girl named Angie for coming to court. She was detained in Del Rio, Texas, a few months ago.
Loprest adjourned case after case, asking the kids to come back in a few months, which is what the advocates had hoped for.
“This is the first day so we’re taking it one step at a time,” said Raluca Oncioiu of Catholic Charities, which is also training the kids about their rights.
Most of the children ended up in New York because there was someone to care for them in the area, Oncioiu said.
“We’re hoping that the word is going to get out for the kids who may be scared of going to court that it’s OK to come in,” Oncioiu said.
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