I don't want to be too subtle about this, because some things require a not-subtle response.
Jack H. Weil was appointed an assistant chief immigration judge in 2009, after many years in the immigration court biz. His current post calls for him to oversee the training of immigration judges. Which is why his comments in a recent deposition are jaw-dropping.
The deposition came in a case in which the American Civil Liberties Union and immigrant rights groups are seeking "to require the government to provide appointed counsel for every indigent child who cannot afford a lawyer in immigration court proceedings." In other words, as we continue to shuttle unaccompanied children into court, wouldn't it be the decentish thing to provide them with a lawyer (the decent thing would not be to drag them in there in the first place). The Justice Department says no; let them represent themselves, no matter how young they are.
The situation is portrayed in this video. You should know that A) the video is a dramatization and B) it is based on court transcripts. So is this video of the actual awfulness? No. Do we have every reason to believe that the reality is just this awful? Yes.
So back to Jack Weil. He was offered up as a witness for the DOJ in the case, and in the course of his deposition, he made the following point, not once, but twice:
“I’ve taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds,” Weil said. “It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience. They get it. It’s not the most efficient, but it can be done.”
He repeated his claim twice in the deposition, also saying, “I’ve told you I have trained 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds in immigration law,” according to a transcript. “You can do a fair hearing. It’s going to take you a lot of time.”
Weil later claimed in an email that his comments "were taken out of context." Technically correct. But I'm trying to imagine in what context this doesn't sound like jaw-dropping baloney. "I'm now going to say some ridiculous stuff just to test the recording equipment"? Maybe "Here's what I'd say if I were an awful person"?
No, I can't imagine any way in which Weil's comments could be contextualized into some thing not-dopey.
So here we are, on one more Kafkaesque page of our current history, having to actually explain, out loud, to grown-up officials, that sending a three year old into a court of law to represent himself in a case in a foreign country where he doesn't speak the language and he only has the reasoning skills and understanding of a three year old child-- we actually have to explain to somebody that this idea is not only stupid, but cruel and unkind.
This makes no sense in any context other than the ongoing program to re-brand the United States as a country so hostile, so unwelcoming, so deliberately awful and just plain mean, that brown people will decide they're better off staying in their miserable homes. This is a level of hostility toward children and ignorance about what they are capable of that boggles the mind. Maybe we were better than this, maybe we were never better than this-- I don't want to host that debate now because one thing I do know is that, whatever our past, right now, in the present, we know better than this. We can do better than this. Call your congressman.