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Urge Congress to Ensure Due Process for Unaccompanied Children

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 23,553 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the Southwest Border between October 2015 and February 2016. Most of these children came from Mexico and Central America, fleeing poverty, systemic violence and governmental failure.

Unaccompanied children face a long and arduous journey from their home countries to the comparative security of the United States. Once they arrive, many hope to be granted asylum, but they face considerable barriers, not the least of which is a lack of proper legal representation in asylum proceedings.

The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act, introduced as S. 2540 by Senator Reid (D-NV) and H.R. 4646 by Representative Lofgren (CA-19) would ensure access to counsel, legal orientation programs and post-release services for children and other vulnerable individuals while they are in immigration court proceedings.

Urge your Senators and Representative to support the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act.

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  • Background:

    A 2014 report by the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees estimated that at least 58% of unaccompanied children arriving in the United States from Mexico and Central America should qualify for some form of protection under international humanitarian agreements.

    Under current law, however, individuals facing immigration removal proceedings do not have an adequate opportunity to seek that protection because they lack the right to legal representation, even if they are children. As a consequence, many children go before immigration judges alone, and an overwhelming majority of children without attorneys are ordered deported. However, when children are represented with an attorney, they are five times more likely to be granted protection.

    The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act (S. 2540/H.R. 4646) would ensure that children, individuals with disabilities and survivors of abuse, torture and violence have legal representation, so that they understand what is happening in court and can fully present their case for protection. The bill would also create a case management pilot project to increase court appearance rates, and would ensure that legal orientation programs are available to all detained immigrants.

    Jewish Values:

    Jewish tradition is clear on the treatment of immigrants. Our faith demands of us concern for the stranger in our midst. Leviticus commands, “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (19:33-34). This principle permeates Jewish tradition and is echoed 35 times in the Torah – the most repeated of any commandment. Our own people’s history as “strangers” feeling oppression and persecution compels us to speak out in favor of mercy and compassion for unaccompanied children seeking refuge in the United States today.

    More Information:

    You can email your elected officials through our form above, or you can call the Capital Switchboard at 202.224.3121202.224.3121202.224.3121 and ask to speak directly with their offices.

    For more information on this issue, visit the RAC’s immigration page or contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Adam Waters.

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