Legal Services for Unaccompanied Children

children_QuaPrietaThe Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the Department of Justice,  through its Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), are launching a grant program called “justice AmeriCorps “.

This grant program will recruit lawyers as well as paralegals for children who have crossed the border without a parent or legal guardian, and are now facing deportation.  justice AmeriCorps will serve children in the immigration court locations where grants are awarded, and will be limited to children under the age of 16 who are not in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement or the Department of Homeland Security.

The grants will be issued to nonprofit organizations in 29 cities with large immigrant populations. Those groups would in turn recruit and enroll the attorneys and paralegals for the program.

EOIR expects that the program will serve several valuable goals.  It will lead to greater efficiencies in immigration proceedings involving these children.  It will respond to Congress’ direction to EOIR “to better serve vulnerable populations such as children [and to] improve court efficiency through pilot efforts aimed at improving legal representation.”  And it will help identify unaccompanied alien children who have been victims of human trafficking or abuse, and the investigation and prosecution of those who perpetrate such crimes on the most vulnerable among us.

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