Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Mark Costanzo

OCLC Record Number



In recent years, immigration detentions have spiked. Further, the Zero Tolerance Policy enacted by President Trump has separated thousands of children from their families. Because many children are without their parents, and immigration court is civil in nature, thousands of children are placed in deportation hearings without representation each year. Child psychological research is at odds with the current deportation practices as psychological research deems children unable to understand the complexities of the court system or the impacts of deportation proceedings. A minimum competency to stand trial must be enacted to protect young children’s due process rights, regardless of citizenship. Further, children should be protected through a guardian ad litem or other legal representatives as they are a vulnerable class. This paper examines the relationship between the current legal standards for immigration court, relevant child psychological research, and explores policy recommendations for immigration competency standards and representation requirements.