John Oliver Weighs In On The Idea That Toddlers Can Represent Themselves In Court

"Nobody, particularly children, should have to represent themselves in these courts."

In a bombshell episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver brought up a major flaw he sees in the current immigration system: those who can't afford an attorney, including those as young as two years old, often have to represent themselves in court. 


While it may be difficult to imagine toddlers managing to tie their own shoes, let alone wield knowledge of immigration law, the fact is that sometimes when legal representation is not supplied to children in immigration court and they are without the means to procure it themselves, they have to do without.  

Imagine having your future rest on the results of a court proceeding that you have to navigate yourself... while only having just learned your ABCs.

In fact, Oliver cites Seattle assistant chief immigration judge Jack Weil, who actually relayed that he's taught the process to them. "I've taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds," Weil is heard saying in a clip that Oliver played on the program. "It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of patience. They get it. It's not the most efficient, but it can be done."

Immigration lawyer Amy Maldonado would beg to differ with those sentiments. She compiled videos of toddlers participating in mock immigration court hearings and featured them on her YouTube page, a few of which were featured during the Last Week Tonight segment. Writing in her pages about section, the lawyer expressed why she felt the need to collect the videos. 

"Immigrant kids need lawyers!" she wrote. She also noted that while the videos are adorable and hilarious, they "emphasize the truly terrible plight of unrepresented toddlers in immigration court who are expected to proceed without a lawyer or advocate."

While Oliver played the situation for laughs during the segment, including a skit in which toddlers ran a criminal court, the host was sure to relay how seriously broken he believes immigration courts are. He also called for lawmakers to think about the children. "At the very least we should absolutely fix the stupidest problem of all," Oliver said, "which is that nobody, particularly children, should have to represent themselves in these courts."

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