We Make a Difference
Children's Representation Program
Immdef is Southern California's Largest Deportation Defense Non-Profit. Our team provides full‐scale deportation defense, legal representation, legal education, and connections to social services to approximately 3,000 detained or non-detained adults and children in Southern California annually.
LEGAL REPRESENTATION MAKES A DIFFERENCE
Without ImmDef's intervention, children would be forced to appear alone before an immigration judge and defend themselves against a highly-trained Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorney.
As children, unaccompanied minors, are uniquely disadvantaged if unrepresented because they are unlikely to fully understand the deportation process and do not have the skills needed to defend themselves.
Almost 40% of all child respondents with cases pending before the Immigration Courts in California are unrepresented.
Through our advocacy, we hope to achieve universal representation for all adult and child respondents in immigration court.
Statistics show that children are 10 times more likely to win their case when they are represented by an attorney.
In recent years, we have seen record-high numbers of unaccompanied children making the dangerous treks over hundreds or thousands of miles to reach the U.S. – searching for family members and safety. Many have survived physical abuse, gang violence, criminal threats, and parental abandonment.
THERE ARE OVER 122,0O0 CHILDREN HELD IN GOVERNMENT CUSTODY
In 2021 alone, over 122,000 children were held in U.S. government custody including infants, toddlers, kids and teens, shattering previous records. ImmDef provided legal services, including know your rights presentations, legal screenings and referrals to over 11,000 children held in Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) emergency influx sites at the Long Beach Convention Center and the Pomona Fairplex during summer and fall 2021.
OVER 2,0O0 CHILDREN IN GOVERNMENT CUSTODY WITH LEGAL SERVICES
ImmDef’s Detained Youth Empowerment Project (DYEP) is an innovative program that provides Know Your Rights presentations, legal screenings, and legal referrals to all children detained in shelters and programs under the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Greater Los Angeles area.
In 2021, the DYEP team provided legal services to over 2,000 detained unaccompanied children.
Our Children’s Representation Project is one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States and currently provides full scale representation to more than 1,200 unaccompanied children.
ImmDef provides no cost representation to every unaccompanied child in removal proceedings that is detained locally, in federal long-term-foster care, or who has been released from local shelters to sponsors within our service area.
The Children's Representation Project is a Team of over 80 staff that includes attorney's paralegals, and legal assistants
Our representation is full-scale deportation
defense, which includes advocacy before immigration
court, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,
and in California state courts. We accept cases for children living in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara,
San Luis Obispo and Kern Counties.
ImmDef uses a universal representation model and will represent any child that qualifies for our services on a merits-blind basis. We will never turn a case away based on the existence of complicating factors or a low likelihood of success. Our goal is to represent as many children as we can so that fewer children are forced to face an immigration judge without an experienced attorney by their side.
To provide holistic support to our child clients as they fight their legal case, our case managers aim to ensure that every child client has access to the social services they need to achieve stability, safety, and success. The case manager serves as a referral source for programs and resources, from trauma counseling and emergency shelter to summer camp and food banks, that will help the child adjust to life in the U.S.
Legal representation Makes a Difference: Client Story
Immdef Managing Attorney Karina Ramos speaks on ImmDef's involvement at the emergency
intake sites and her role in defending our client Angela.