Information on Unaccompanied Children
RMIAN RESPONDS TO URGENT HUMANITARIAN CRISIS OF UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN IN COLORADO; PLEASE HELP US DO MORE!
RMIAN’s Children’s Program has been providing free immigration-related legal services to children in Colorado since 2004. RMIAN’s Children’s Program is the only program in the state of Colorado dedicated to children’s immigration law issues. With rapidly increasing numbers of unaccompanied children arriving in Colorado, RMIAN’s services are needed now more than ever.
- RMIAN provides free legal representation to immigrant children who have been victims of abuse, persecution, or other violence and to children who are longtime community members and are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
- RMIAN provides free trainings on immigration law to attorneys, child welfare professionals, and community members. In 2013, RMIAN’s Children’s Program provided direct legal representation in 266 children’s immigration cases, conducted 278 individual intakes and consultations, and referred out 137 children’s immigration cases to pro bono attorneys in Colorado.
In February 2012, RMIAN began a collaborative partnership with the Denver Immigration Court to provide legal services to children on the Denver Immigration Court’s Juvenile Docket. The numbers of unaccompanied children on this docket are now increasing at unprecedented levels due to the recent surge of unaccompanied children who are arrested at the border, reunified with sponsors in Colorado, and then placed in removal proceedings before the Denver Court.
- RMIAN attorneys provide know-your-rights presentations and individual intakes at each Juvenile Docket. For many of the children and their guardians, this may be the first and only opportunity they have to talk to an attorney and to learn about their rights and legal options.
- In February 2013, the monthly Denver Children’s Docket consisted of just seven children. By February 2014, the number of minors on the monthly Children’s Docket ballooned to fifty-three cases that month alone, a 650% increase.
- RMIAN attorneys directly represent the most vulnerable children in these removal or deportation proceedings. Cases include petitions for lawful permanent residency for victims of child abuse, asylum requests for youth fleeing violence in their home countries, and U Visa requests for child victims of violent crimes.
- As of June 2014, there were more than 242 pending juvenile cases in the Denver Immigration Court, with dozens of new cases being added every month. Most of these children are unrepresented.
Attorneys are essential to ensuring immigrant children are protected and enjoy the basic protections afforded by the U.S. legal system.
- Children have no right to counsel at government expense. This means that children as young as two and three years old are expected to represent themselves before an immigration judge, with opposing counsel from Immigration and Customs arguing for their deportation.
- Even children who have survived trafficking, trauma, or persecution and are eligible under current U.S. law to remain in the United States are left without appointed legal counsel.
- In a recent court hearing, RMIAN’s Managing Attorney had a four year boy sit on her lap, his legs dangling from the chairs, because he was terrified of court.
- Recent data evaluating unaccompanied children in removal proceedings in the US shows if an attorney was present, almost half of the children were allowed to stay in the United States. However, where there was no attorney, nine out of ten children were deported. http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/359/
- A study by the Vera Institute of Justice found that 40% of unaccompanied children who were screened by legal service providers in 2010 qualified for some form of relief; that number has likely grown due to increasing levels of violence in children’s home countries. http://www.vera.org/sites/default/files/resources/downloads/the-flow-of-unaccompanied-children-through-the-immigration-system.pdf
- As the number of children in need increases, RMIAN will be marshaling the support of Colorado’s legal community to ensure that as many children are represented in their immigration proceedings as possible. RMIAN will train and mentor volunteers to take on these compelling cases. On July 16, 2014, RMIAN and the Colorado Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association hosted a legal training for over 100 pro bono attorneys on representing unaccompanied children in removal proceedings.
In response to this humanitarian crisis, RMIAN is raising funds to support an additional Children’s Program staff attorney and paralegal who will provide direct services to the increasing number of unaccompanied children in Colorado and ensure they receive the protection all children deserve. If you would like to help us reach this goal, you can donate by clicking the icon on the right.
“RMIAN helped me obtain my residency for the United States as a student on a path for college. Being an undocumented immigrant draws an imaginary, but harsh boundary on your dreams. My dream to become a doctor my whole life abruptly stopped my senior year in high school. RMIAN not only helped erased the boundary, but returned the hope I had lost to become a doctor. RMIAN completely changed my life.”
- RMIAN’s Children’s Program Client
RMIAN's Children Program is providing legal services to the increasing numbers of unaccompanied children who are reunited with family members in Colorado and on the Denver Immigration Court's Juvenile Docket.
Attorneys interested in assisting RMIAN with intakes at the Juvenile Docket, as well as attorneys interested in providing direct representation to a child should contact Children's Program Staff Attorney Ashely Harrington at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a link to a training provided by RMIAN and the Colorado Chapter of AILA, please click here.
For the PowerPoint from the training, please click here.
The Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (RMIAN) works to ensure justice for men and women in immigration detention and for immigrant children who have suffered from abuse, neglect, or violence.
RMIAN is a nonprofit organization that serves low-income men, women, and children in immigration proceedings. RMIAN promotes knowledge of legal rights, provides effective representation to ensure due process, works to improve detention conditions, and promotes a more humane immigration system, including alternatives to detention.
We believe that justice for immigrants means justice for all. We respect the needs and celebrate the contributions of the individuals and communities that we serve. We beleive our clients are equal partners in accessing justice. We value respect for all human beings, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or legal status. We believe in valuing and respecting the contributions of our board, staff, and volunteers. We believe in a working environment that fosters personal and professional growth and strives for excellence.