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CHILDREN'S REPRESENTATION PROGRAM

Legal Representation Matters

 

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 to appear alone before an immigration judge and defend themselves against a highly-trained Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) attorney.  

 

Almost 40% of all child respondents with cases pending before the Immigration Courts in California are unrepresented. Statistics show that children are 10 times more likely to win their case when they are represented by an attorney. Through our advocacy, we hope to achieve universal representation for all adult and child respondents in immigration court.   

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OUR IMPACT

WE'RE A TEAM OF 15+ ATTORNEY'S, X LEGAL ASSISTANTS, AND X PARALEGALS

THERE ARE OVER 122,000
CHILDREN HELD IN GOVERNMENT CUSTODY

In recent years, we have seen record-high numbers of unaccompanied children – making dangerous treks over hundreds or thousands of miles – come to the U.S. searching for family members and safety. Many have suffered physical abuse, gang violence, criminal threats, and parental abandonment.  

 

In 2021 alone, over 122,000 children were held in U.S. government custody1 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.   

WE'VE PROVIDED OVER 2,000
CHILDREN 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.  

   

WE REPRESENT OVER 1,200
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.  

 

OUR SERVICES

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. We accept cases for children living in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Kern Counties.   

UNIVERSAL REPRESENTATION

ImmDef uses a universal representation model and will represent any child that qualifies for our services on a merits-blind basis. This means that 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.  

CASE MANAGEMENT SERVICES

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 better adjust to life in the U.S. 

SUPPORT
OUR PROGRAM

Legal Representation Matters: Client Stories

Managing AtTorney Karina Ramos speaks on ImmDef's involvement at the emergency intake sites and her role in fighting to defend our client Angela.