Criticism arises after children are rushed to see immigration judges

Unaccompanied immigrant children apprehended at the border are being placed first in line to go before U.S. immigration judges under a new federal policy, prompting criticism from attorneys who say some immigrants have been given less than 48 hours to appear in court in states far from where they live.

Faced with a surge of immigrants arriving illegally from Central America, immigration courts have begun realigning overloaded dockets to ensure unaccompanied minors get their first hearing before a judge within 21 days after Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials file a deportation case against them.

Previously, immigrants waited months or more than a year for their initial hearing with a judge, where they get their first chance to review the charges against them and make the case for why they deserve to stay in the United States.

The shortened timeline, enacted Friday by the Executive Office for Immigration Review, also applies to adults with children who are apprehended at the border.

Officials say the changes will speed up the resolution in many cases while sending a strong message to those in Central America that the United States is serious about enforcing its immigration laws.

Many believe the influx of tens of thousands of immigrant children and families into the United States in recent months has been partly fueled by rumors that children, once they cross the border, will be allowed to stay.

But immigrant advocates say the shortened time frame does not give recently arrived immigrants a fair chance to find a lawyer and build a successful case.

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Criticism arises after children are rushed to see immigration judges
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