SILVER SPRING, MD – October 2, 2014 – The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) is partnering with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services to provide unaccompanied immigrant children with legal representation. The federal government announced this week that the Department of Health and Human Services will grant $9 million to support legal services for immigrant children who entered the United States without a parent or guardian.
As part of the federal funding, the following CLINIC affiliates will provide direct legal representation of unaccompanied children:
- Catholic Charities of Los Angeles;
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston;
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami;
- Catholic Charities of Baltimore;
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.;
- Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington (Va.);
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
CLINIC will provide these organizations with legal technical assistance, training, and support. This project will help more than a thousand unaccompanied migrant children who have been reunified with families in these locations.
“This funding will allow these children to have access to due process,” said Jeanne M. Atkinson, Executive Director of CLINIC. “Children need to have a fair opportunity to explain why they deserve to stay in the United States. Our affiliates are known for providing high quality legal services for those most in need, which these children surely are. ”
About 60,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended along the southern border in fiscal year 2014. Most of these children have been released to friends and family members located throughout the United States. These children are currently in removal proceedings and need competent legal representation.
Nearly two-thirds of minors with cases pending before an Immigration Judge are unrepresented by legal counsel. Many of these children are eligible to remain in the United States based on their past experiences or fear of future persecution. Yet, without the advice or representation of a lawyer, a child has very little chance of fighting government efforts to deport him or her. This is particularly troubling given that some children face return to countries where they risk mistreatment, abuse, and even death.
CLINIC has responded to the upsurge in unaccompanied children by providing free immigration law training to advocates and pro bono attorneys. In the past few months, CLINIC has trained advocates in how to effectively interview and represent unaccompanied children and how to apply for the available forms of relief. This project will leverage CLINIC’s experience in delivering trainings and technical assistance to legal service providers and will support its mission to promote the dignity and protect the rights of the most vulnerable
The nation’s largest network of nonprofit immigration programs, CLINIC supports more than 260 affiliates located in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. CLINIC advocates for humane and just immigration policy. For more information go to www.cliniclegal.org.