The Virginia Court of Appeals is currently being asked to decide whether county civil court judges should have to rule on whether illegal alien minors should be protected against deportation when it is alleged they will be abused if they are sent home. The Washington Post reports that many local judges are balking at making a ruling on these cases because immigration is a federal issue and they feel they lack competence to rule on an immigration matter.

The arguments about this issue ignore the point that the institutions that provide protection for abused minors in the home country are the logical bodies to determine whether and when and what type of protection may be needed.

The defenders of the illegal alien youth – who may be as old as 21 – argue that the issue is not about immigration status, because a determination that an illegal alien youth needs protection is only a preliminary step in facilitating the individual’s application for a visa that confers legal permanent residence. According to the Post article, the number of these special visas has soared from 1,600 in 2010 to 15,100 in 2016 as the wave of minors from Central America has surged.

The argument by the judges who object to being asked to rule on these cases is that they have no way of verifying the veracity of the claims of the advocates that the illegal alien minor would be subjected to abuse if returned home. Moreover, U.S. courts have no way of establishing whether the parent or other responsible adult in the home country is aware of the court proceeding in the United States and would contest the testimony in the court.

The issue before the Virginia Court of Appeals is unnecessarily convoluted because of the law that allows the issuance of these special immigrant visas to illegal alien minors. Elimination of the confusion requires federal legislation to abolish this visa provision. If the illegal alien minors do not qualify for the traditional protection of the asylum process, they should be returned to the home country with a request to the home country to determine whether the youth needs protection from abuse by the caregiver.