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Cases Of Unaccompanied Minors Added To Juvenile Immigration Docket

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Ken Molestina Ken Molestina
Prior to joining CBS 11 News in January 2014 as anchor and repor...
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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The wave of unaccompanied children arriving illegally in the U.S. along the southern border continues, and now CBS 11 News has learned about a strong connection between the humanitarian crisis and North Texas.

According to the Catholic Charities of Dallas, the Dallas region is second behind Houston in the most reunions between unaccompanied minors and their loved ones. That means all those cases are heard every Wednesday morning on the Juvenile Immigration Docket at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Dallas.

The reasons the children are giving for coming to this country differ, but almost all explanations have to do with fleeing some kind of violence in their home countries.

Our cameras were not allowed in the courtroom on Wednesday, but CBS 11 was there as nearly 30 children, one after another, appeared before an immigration judge to plead their case. Judge Michael P. Baird gave the children who didn’t appear in court as ordered an order of deportation.

Norys Perez, a 17-year-old from El Salvador, said he and his 11-year-old cousin were brought to the McAllen border by a human smuggler. They were fleeing gang violence in their country. Talking about his dreams of coming the U.S. Perez said, “I imagined having a better future, and becoming a professional.”

As Dallas County prepares to take in and temporarily house 2,000 unaccompanied minors courts in the city are preparing for a possible overload of cases. Once children eventually reunite with their families they all must appear before a judge at a later date. If a lump sum of the 2,000 kids enroute to Dallas reunite with family in North Texas that means all of their cases would end up on the same juvenile immigration docket — further back logging an already busy court.

Jaime Trevino, an attorney for Catholic Charities of Dallas, said, “I imagine that in a few months the courts are really going to start to get bogged down.”

For those children reunited with loved ones in North Texas the judicial process will be slow. After going to court to officially connect with family, it could be about a year before they see a judge again.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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