There are some fundamental requirements in United States jurisprudence. There are some things we just do not do as a matter of fundamental due process. One of those things we do not do is ask minors to make important legal decisions. Yet, that is exactly the slippery slope upon which the Trump administration has embarked. A five year old Honduran who as seeking asylum was separated from her grandmother. She was then asked to sign away her right to a bond hearing. The ABA Bar Journal is relying on a New Yorker magazine article for the story.

Helen arrived in Texas with her grandmother, Noehmi and her teenage uncle, Christian in July. The Trump administration had supposedly ended the practice of separating children from their families weeks before Helen arrived. Yet, Helen was separated from her family.

All immigrants have the right to a hearing to determine whether they are entitled to bond. If the court finds they are likely to appear for their hearing, then the court allows them to post bond and go free until his/her hearing. Little Helen checked the box indicating she wanted a bond hearing. Later, someone handed her a form, with adult language and in English, asking if she wanted to waive her right to a bond hearing. The form was checked that she wished to withdraw her request for a bond hearing. Her signature appeared in typical kindergarten scrawl, just one word, “Helen.” There was no last name.

In Texas, the age at which one may enter into a contract is 18. But, in reality, many businesses require an older age, 21. My son cannot rent a car in his own name until he turns 21. Five years old is definitely below the minimum.

The age of consent affects countless areas of law, everything from marriage, to a driver’s license to voting. It is, or was, a fundamental precept of American law. See the ABA Bar Journal report here.

Later, Noehmi and Christian were re-united. But, at the hearing, the immigration judge and the Department of Homeland Defense lawyer did not appear to realize Helen existed. The lawyer for Noehmi and Christian tracked down Helen and found her. Helen was returned to her family on Sept. 10, 2018. But, now, she is afraid to go to sleep at night for fear her family will leave her in the night.

Words have meaning.  If a person uses a racial slur and an otherwise inexplicable adverse personnel action occurs, then we may have pretty good circumstantial evidence of racial discrimintion.  So, what is a racial slur?  One candidate for the Texas Senate seat, Chris Mapp, said "wetbacks" should be shot.  Mr. Mapp hails from Port O’Connor, deep in South Texas.  He insists that word is a "normal" term in South Texas.  See San Antonio Express News report.  He used the term when he met with the editorial board of the Dallas Morning News.  He later defended his use of the term when he met with the San Antonio Express News editorial board.  He said the term is as normal as "breathing air" in South Texas. 

I have spent much of my life in South Texas and can say that sometimes, "wetback" is normal.  Ii is a phrase often used by persons with little or no respect for illegal immigrants.  I once served as commander of a National Guard company in Robstown, Texas for three years.  Co. D, 2/141 was perhaps 98% Hispanic.  I am sure I never heard the "wetback" term during my tenure.  So, sure, his use of the term in certain circumstances would be good evidence of racial discrimination.  If there was an otherwise unexplained personnel action toward a Hispanic employee, Mr. Mapp’s use of the term "wetback" would be key evidence.  A jury makes the ultimate decision regarding what is or is not a racial slur.  But, I would bet my money that Mr. Mapp would lose in front of most South Texas juries.