Asylum practices specifically hurt children, report finds

In a report released today, First Focus on Children and the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights outline the many ways in which current asylum practices specifically hurt children and families seeking safety in the U.S. Most recently, the Biden Administration announced an asylum ban that would result in thousands of children and families being denied asylum and relies heavily on expedited removal processes to quickly deport asylum seekers.

The co-authored report —Fast Not Fair: How Expedited Processes Harm Immigrant Children Seeking Protection— analyzes multiple expedited immigration processes, including expedited removal, dedicated dockets, and the Biden Administration’s asylum processing rule introduced last year. As detailed in the report, expedited processes are a trademark of the U.S. immigration system that give children and families just a short period of time to make their claim for protection from persecution, violence, trafficking, and other danger. These processes fail to consider children’s development stages, the impact of their trauma, their lack of legal representation, and independent claims for asylum, which often leads to their deportation. The report recommends a wholesale reimagining of the immigration system for children that centers their safety and well-being, as well as immediate steps federal agencies can take to ensure children’s cases are handled in a trauma-informed manner and provide due process.

“The federal government rarely considers the impact of immigration policy on children, and expedited processes are no exception,” said Miriam Abaya, Vice President for Immigration and Children’s Rights at First Focus on Children. “Expedited processes force children and families to navigate an impossibly complex system, which is entirely new to them and could have life or death consequences, quickly and without support. These pitfalls can be particularly true for children arriving with family, who are rendered invisible simply because they arrive with adults. This government failure denies children due process and sends them back into harm’s way. Federal agencies must ensure that children and families have time to begin recovering from their trauma, have legal representation, and have their cases heard by trauma-informed adjudicators with child-focused expertise. Above all, we urge the Biden Administration to systematically consider how every policy it proposes would affect children and ensure that every policy advances children’s safety, well-being, and family unity.”

“As President Biden’s recent border measures demonstrate, expedited processes have become a deeply entrenched and dangerous fixture in our immigration system by which the government quickly deports people seeking safety, including many children, without a full and fair opportunity to be heard on their claims for protection,” said Jane Liu, Senior Litigation Attorney at the Young Center. “The consequences are life-threatening. Expedited processes significantly increase the risk that children will be returned to danger, persecution, and harm; in some cases, it can mean the difference between whether a child lives or dies. While it is critical that children’s cases be adjudicated as efficiently as possible, it should never be at the expense of their rights, safety and well-being. The Biden Administration must end the use of expedited processes for all migrants and implement fair, humane policies that treat children as children and keep families together.”

The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights is a non-profit organization that protects and advances the rights and best interests of immigrant children and advocates for an immigration system that treats children as children first. For press inquiries, please contact Anabel Mendoza at and follow the Young Center on Twitter @theYoungCenter.

First Focus on Children is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For press inquiries, please contact Michele Kayal at and follow First Focus on Twitter @First_Focus.