A 1-year-old boy appeared before an immigration judge in Phoenix Friday, one of a number of children who showed up to court without their parents after being separated from them.
Johan, a Honduran boy, was brought to the U.S. by his father, according to The Associated Press. However, his father has since been removed from the country, while Johan remains in the custody of U.S. Health and Human Services Department in Arizona, the young boy’s lawyer told the judge. It’s not clear when the father and son were first separated.
The judge appeared visibly uncomfortable before the young defendant, who was dressed in a green button-down shirt, The AP reported.
“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 said as he asked whether the child understood the proceedings.
Richardson said Johan’s case showcases the difficulties of carrying out a federal judge’s recent order for the Trump administration to reunite all immigrant children with their parents. For children under 5 years old, the deadline is Tuesday, while for older children it’s July 26, according to NPR.
On Friday, the Trump administration asked for more time to comply with the judge’s demands, saying it was working “diligently,” but needed “may need clarification on or some relief from certain parts of the order, so that defendants can safely reunite families,” court documents state, NPR reported.
Johan was given a voluntary departure order, meaning he will be flown to Honduras, where he will be placed back with his family, the AP reported.