Children's Representation Program
Children Held in Government Custody
In 2019 alone, nearly 70,000 children were held in U.S. government custody including infants, toddlers, kids and teens, an increase of 42 percent in fiscal year 2019 from 2018. These children spent more time in shelters and away from their families than in prior years.
Our Children’s Representation Project is one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States and provides representation and pro bono placement (referrals for free representation by outside attorneys) for more than 700 children each year.
Since the Trump administration, we have seen thousands of unaccompanied children—most fleeing violence and making dangerous treks over hundreds or thousands of miles, come to the U.S. each year searching for family members, or seeking work to support their families.
Some have suffered physical abuse, gang violence and criminal threats, parental abandonment. 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. Without ImmDef's intervention, these children would be forced appear alone and defend themselves against a highly-trained ICE attorney before an immigration judge.
We represent immigrant children in shelters or federal long-term-foster care, or who have been released to sponsors within the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Immigration Court. ImmDef provides no cost representation to unaccompanied children in deportation proceedings.
What we provide
Full-Scale Deportation Defense
Our representation is full-scale deportation defense, which includes advocacy before immigration court, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and California state courts. Our clients live in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Kern Counties.
ImmDef uses a universal representation model and, up to our capacity, we represent any minor who has been released from the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and who requests our services, regardless of the factors in their case. 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.
CASE MANAGEMENT SERVICES
To support our child clients as they fight their legal case, our social services case manager meets with clients and their families to analyze the child's needs. The case manager serves as a referral source for programs, from trauma counseling to summer camp, that will help the child better adjust and succeed in his/her new surroundings.