The Latest: Lawmakers blast disparity in kid asylum results

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on differences in approval rates for unaccompanied children’s asylum cases across the United States. (all times local):

5:53 p.m.

Lawmakers say there should not be such a glaring disparity in the approval rates for unaccompanied immigrant children’s asylum cases in different government offices across the U.S.

California Democratic lawmaker Judy Chu on Wednesday called for the House Judiciary Committee to examine the reasons for the differences and the ability of youngsters to get lawyers in different places.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, says justice should be served evenly across the country lest the United States deport its future leaders or send them to face death back home.

Both lawmakers serve on the House Judiciary Committee along with Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who says he is concerned the disparities might enable immigrants to exploit the country’s immigration system.

Earlier on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that the U.S. government’s asylum offices in California have been more likely to approve unaccompanied children’s cases than those in Chicago or Houston.


2:48 p.m.

For unaccompanied immigrant children seeking asylum in the U.S., where they apply seems to make a world of difference.

Youngsters whose applications are handled by the U.S. government’s regional offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles are far more likely to win approval from asylum officers than those applying in Chicago or Houston, according to data obtained by The Associated Press under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The figures offer a snapshot of how the government is handling the huge surge over the past two years in the number of Central American children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border unaccompanied by adults. Tens of thousands of youngsters — many of them fleeing gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — have overflowed U.S. shelters and further clogged the nation’s overwhelmed immigration courts.

Under federal law, these children can apply to remain in the country in a process that involves an interview with an asylum officer from one of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ eight regional offices. To win their cases, they must show that they have been persecuted or are in danger of persecution.

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