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Immigrant Boy Receives Humanitarian Parole

July 31, 2001

Re "Thai Boy Gets OK to Stay in U.S. for Now," July 24:

Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's recent mercy to the 4-year-old Thai boy is encouraging. But Got (Phanupong Khaisri) is just one of hundreds of other children apprehended by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Los Angeles every year. In my experience, each one of them is also a confused and isolated figure adrift in a complex legal system. These children arrive in the United States due to circumstances beyond their control, such as war, natural disaster or parental abuse. Yet when they arrive here, instead of protecting them our government chooses to lock them up and attempts to deport them right back to the danger they innocently fled.

Unaccompanied children in the United States deserve our respect and protection. They deserve to be treated in accordance with the United Nations' principle of the "best interests of the child." The attorney general's humanitarian parole of Got is a good start. Now, it's time for the Department of Justice to stop blaming all the others for the nightmares they faced in their home countries. Only then can we as a nation rightfully claim membership in the global community.

Alicia J. Triche

Managing Attorney

Catholic Legal Immigration

Network, Los Angeles

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