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.

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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
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'Tent city' for immigrant children separated from parents in Texas
Raymondville, UNITED STATES: A futuristic USD 65 million tent city designed to hold about 2,000 illegal immigrants is pictured 10 April 2006 in Raymondville, Texas. The newly-constructed barbed-wire enclosed camp in the Rio Grande Valley will hold illegal immigrants for weeks to years until they can be returned to their home countires by US officials. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. Picture taken June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The inside of a dormitory at the Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, walk in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are being housed in tents by the Department of Homeland Security next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Immigrant children, many of whom have been separated from their parents under a new "zero tolerance" policy by the Trump administration, are shown walking in single file between tents in their compound next to the Mexican border in Tornillo, Texas, U.S. June 18, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Tornillo facility, a shelter for children of detained migrants, is seen in this photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in Tornillo, Texas, U.S., June 14, 2018. ACF/HHS/Handout via REUTERS Picture taken June 14, 2018. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
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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.
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