During my time in law school, I worked in the immigration clinic that serves vulnerable populations, including immigrant children who had been abandoned, abused and/or neglected. Seeing and working with these children made a huge impact on my life, and I eventually chose to concentrate on representing immigrant children. I currently work for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC) where I provide national training on immigration law/policies with an emphasis on unaccompanied minors.
I initially joined the ABA’s Children’s Rights Litigation Committee in 2016. Under the new presidential administration, many immigrant children are in jeopardy of losing crucial legal safeguards and due process protections. Members of the Committee and its partners, such as the ABA Commission on Immigration, recognized the problem, and we decided to work on a solution. Our goal was to draft ABA policy calling for the preservation and development of laws, regulation, policies and procedures that protect or increase due process and other safeguards for immigrant and asylum-seeking children. Drafting a policy of this scale would usually take several months to complete but we did not have that luxury. Despite the time constraint we were able to finish this policy in just two months.
Children deserve to be treated like children regardless of immigration status. They shouldn’t be detained a moment longer than is necessary, and even then, only in an appropriate setting. Immigration laws are extremely complex and children should have access to lawyers to help them. The ABA policy calls for these and other important protections.