The Board issued a precedent decision on Friday April 29th in the case of Matter of Cubor-Cruz, which affirmed the Eighth and Fifth Circuits and rejected the Ninth Circuit’s position. The question was whether a child who was given a written notice of his court hearing, was properly “served,” in that he is a child. There is a distinction in the statute between the words “minor” and “juvenile,” a distinction which the Ninth Circuit had held could lead to due process concerns in this context. The Board held that a child as young as 14 years old was “served” if he had been physically handed the notice of his court hearing, even if he was detained with a parent. It may be true that exceptionally responsible 14-year-olds do exist. On the other hand, we don’t permit a 14-year-old to drive, which would be required to get himself to court. Apparently, a line must be drawn somewhere – but service upon a child as young as 14 is too young, especially given that the consequences of an “in absentia” removal order, which is what the respondent in Cubor-Cruz received, is at least 10 years of ineligibility for much other relief.
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