WEST SACRAMENTO (AP) — California’s attorney general said Thursday she is helping secure lawyers to represent minors from Central America during immigration hearings.
Kamala Harris called the surge in young immigrants a humanitarian crisis, echoing comments made a day earlier by Gov. Jerry Brown, a fellow Democrat.
More than 57,000 minors have arrived at the border since October, mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, along with tens of thousands of families.
Harris said she wants “to make sure that we’re giving those children due process of law” and added that children as young as 8 shouldn’t have to go through the hearings without the benefit of a lawyer to help explain their condition.
Harris made the comments after presenting valor awards to law enforcement officers at the California Highway Patrol Academy in West Sacramento.
She said providing lawyers is among the steps that can be taken at the state and local levels to aid the situation.
“But ultimately, it’s an issue that is a federal issue,” said Harris, who is running for re-election to a second four-year term. “We need to pass comprehensive immigration reform and Congress is not acting. And it’s a shame.”
Brown said Wednesday that the state is willing to do its part but offered no details on actions he might take.
The governor, who also is seeking re-election, met with Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena before he begins a four-day trade mission to Mexico next week.