A 1-year-old 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 Friday, 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, AP reported. “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 going to 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 told CNN last month.
Johan, who was separated at the U.S. border from his dad under President 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.