When you picture someone well versed in immigration law, you probably don’t imagine a 4-year-old child. It’s surprising, but some federal courts are forcing minors – some of them toddlers – to represent themselves in immigration proceedings.

While the Constitution guarantees a defendant the right to an attorney for criminal offenses, the same right is not afforded to those charged with violating immigration law, a civil offense. In the last three years, more than 160,000 children have come to the U.S. without a parent or guardian.

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