Immigrant Children Representing Selves in Court [VIDEO]

As the White House faces court orders to reunite families separated at the border, immigrant children as young as 3 are being ordered into court for their own deportation proceedings, according to attorneys in Texas, California and Washington, D.C.

โ€œWe were representing a 3-year-old in court recently who had been separated from the parents. And the child โ€” in the middle of the hearing โ€” started climbing up on the table,โ€ said Lindsay Toczylowski, executive director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center in Los Angeles. โ€œIt really highlighted the absurdity of what weโ€™re doing with these kids.โ€

The children being detained under the new โ€œzero toleranceโ€ policy, though, are facing immigration proceedings without mom or dad by their side.ย  โ€œThe parent might be the only one who knows why they fled from the home country, and the child is in a disadvantageous position to defend themselves,โ€ Toczylowski said.

Leaders at three legal services organizations and a private firm confirmed that the children are being served with notices to appear in court. They are not entitled to an attorney but rather are given a list of legal services organizations that might help them.

Steve Lee, a UCLA child psychology professor, said expecting the children to advocate for themselves in court is an โ€œincredibly misaligned expectation.โ€ย  โ€œThat couldnโ€™t be any less developmentally appropriate,โ€ he said, adding that some children may not be mature enough to verbalize a response.

For more: Texas Tribune