John Oliver on America's Immigration Courts

by Joseph McKeown

HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” aired a comedic but insightful segment on the injustices and absurdities of US immigration courts. The segment covers various topics including the burdensome task that immigrants face of representing themselves in immigration court if they cannot afford a lawyer, the years-long case backlog, and what happens to asylum applicants who don't win their case. He takes especially sharp aim at the assertion that child immigrants can understand immigration law well enough to effectively represent themselves in court without a lawyer. To this end, he features clips from attorney Amy Maldonado's interviews of toddlers responding to basic biographical and immigration-related questions. To one inquiry about designating a country of removal, Lilah, who is about three or four years old, says: pizza!