1-year-old baby appears in immigration court, cries hysterically

A year-old baby boy in federal custody appeared in immigration court without his parents in Phoenix, briefly played with a ball, drank from a bottle, then “cried hysterically” as he was about to leave the courtroom, according to the Associated Press.

But he was eventually granted a voluntary departure order so the government can fly him to Honduras, where his father has already been sent.

The little boy, identified in court only as Johan, was one of the children who appeared in the Arizona court Friday without parents. One boy held up five fingers when the judge asked him his age.

Judge John Richardson said he was “embarrassed to ask” if Johan understood the proceedings, said AP. “I don’t know who you would explain it to, unless you think that a 1-year-old could learn immigration law,” he told Johan’s attorney.

Immigration advocates have complained about children in court, calling it stressful and frightening. There are no physical accommodations for children, many of whom can’t even see over defense tables without booster seats.

“There are no booster seats ... no teddy bears. It’s a cold immigration court, and these kids are sitting in chairs that are too big for them; their feet don’t even touch the floor,” immigration attorney Lindsay Toczlowski explained last month on CNN.

Johan, who was separated at the U.S. border from his dad under Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, is one of the more fortunate children because he at least has a court-appointed attorney. Not all of the children separated from their parents do.

Trump countermanded his own separation policy with an executive order he signed June 20. But now his administration is under court order to reunite children with families.

Some 3,000 migrant children remain in government custody after being separated from their parents, and 100 of them are under the age of 5, according to HHS. The New York Times has reported that some records on the separated families have been lost or even destroyed, raising the possibility that some children may never be reunited with their families. In addition, the U.S. has already deported at least 19 parents of children under the age of 5 and in federal custody.

A federal judge in San Diego ordered the Trump administration to reunite children with their parents within 14 days for children under the age of 5, and within 30 days for older children. The first deadline is July 10.

Lawyers for HHS asked for an extension last week — and argued that federal officials shouldn’t be required to reunite children with parents who have already been deported. Judge Dana Sabraw, who set the deadlines, will hold a hearing Monday on the extension request, but only in specific cases where the government can demonstrate that it’s necessary. She said Friday that the government must reunite children with their parents, even if the parents have already been deported.

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.