In 2017, Jose Antonio Hernandez Vasquez, a 17-year-old from Guatemala seeking asylum in the United States, was suddenly moved from a youth shelter to a maximum-security facility in Southern California. For about 10 months, the teen was detained alongside adults, many of them gang members and convicted criminals, before authorities realized their error.
The mistake was made, Hernandez’s lawyers now argue, because of the federal government’s reliance on a controversial dental exam to determine the age of migrants — a practice they say can have legal and psychological consequences for youths who are seeking protection.
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