Representation for Unaccompanied Children in Immigration Court

By: Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). Published by: Syracuse University. Published on: November 25, 2014

Link to report

A research center at Syracuse University analyzed data of unaccompanied children in immigration court and found that when children received legal representation, they experienced better outcomes.

Highlights include:

  • “Unaccompanied children are represented by an attorney in only about one-third (32%) of 63,721 cases pending in Immigration Court as of October 31, 2014, according to the latest data. Some 43,030 juveniles have not as yet been able to hire an attorney to assist them or to find pro bono representation (see Figure 1). For the 21,588 children’s cases filed and already decided since the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America began three years ago, only 41 percent had representation.”
  • “Outcome if attorney present. In almost three out of four (73%) of the cases in which the child was represented, the court allowed the child to remain in the United States. The child was ordered removed in slightly more than one in ten (12%) of these cases. And in the remaining 15 percent the judge entered a “voluntary departure” (VD) order. (While with a VD order the child is required to leave the country, the child avoids many of the more severe legal consequences of a removal order.)”
  • “Outcome if no attorney. “Where the child appeared alone without representation, only 15 percent were allowed to remain in the country. All the rest were ordered deported — 80 percent through the entry of a removal order, and 5 percent with a VD order.”


Categories: Children, Immigration, Individual Rights, Legal Aid Attorneys, Legal Aid Practitioners, Migrants/Immigrants, National, News Media, Policymakers and Funders, Pro Bono, Researchers and Academics

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