On Tuesday, September 23, Attorney Theodore J. Murphy and Immigration Judge Charles Honeyman joined together for a continuing legal education class entitled “Introduction to Immigration Court Practice”. The event was sponsored by the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and held at Cozen & O’Conner law firm in Philadelphia, PA.
Judge Honeyman discussed the history of immigration court and the processes involved in a typical immigration court case, as well as the forms of relief available in the immigration court.
Attorney Murphy discussed effective representation from initial consultation to representation in court and elaborated on the forms of relief available.
Central American Unaccompanied Minors
Those in attendance were attorneys with limited experience in immigration law, usually one to five years. Many were completely new to immigration but were interested in helping with the mass migration of unaccompanied minors coming across the border from the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Attorney Murphy discussed his experiences representing these children and how to prepare their cases. Concerns for representing the unaccompanied minors include effective communication, counselling, and court preparation. Many of the children have trouble talking about their ordeals because of their age and personal experiences. In addition Spanish is often not their primary language. Many of these children speak indigenous Central American dialects and only learned Spanish in school, if they have even been to school at all. There are over 24 separate Mayan dialects just in Guatemala! Many of these children need psychological counselling due to trauma from witnessing violent crimes including rape, torture, and murder. These children have often been victims of violent crimes themselves.
The presentation was broadcast to audiences in Seattle, San Diego, and New Jersey via WebEx.