The 1-year-old boy in a green button-up shirt drank milk from a bottle – played with a small purple ball that lit up when it hit the ground and occasionally asked for ‘agua’.
Then it was the child’s turn for his court appearance before a Phoenix immigration judge – who could hardly contain his unease with the situation during the portion of the hearing where he asks immigrant defendants whether they understand the proceedings.
‘I’m embarrassed to ask it because I don’t know who you would explain it to – unless you think that a 1-year-old could learn immigration law’ Judge John W. Richardson told the lawyer representing the 1-year-old boy.
The boy is one of hundreds of children who need to be reunited with their parents after being separated at the border – many of them split from mothers and fathers as a result of the Trump administration’s ‘zero-tolerance policy’.
The separations have become an embarrassment to the administration as stories of crying children separated from mothers and kept apart for weeks on end dominated the news in recent weeks.
Critics have also seized on the nation’s immigration court system that requires children — some still in diapers — to have appearances before judges and go through deportation proceedings while separated from their parents.