Congress who failed to take serious action to address an epic immigration crisis left 60,000 unaccompanied minors in the dust. Meanwhile, there are plenty of people with legal talent and non-profits with experience and commitment to volunteer initiatives to help children in need. Advocates for the children who fled from violence and instability in their home countries are working hard to train talented attorneys in immigration law, which is a large undertaking when immigration law and policy is complex and not intuitive.
The problems with unaccompanied child immigrants start when the children who do not know the law, have no idea how to ask for help. Many of these children might be able to qualify for asylum and could obtain relief to stay in the U.S., but the nine-page application is only available in English and without learning how to seek asylum in the first place, most remain helpless.
Instead of getting the help they need, the children will likely end up with denied asylum applications and face a federal prosecutor seeking deportation in immigration court. This presents a nearly impossible situation, says one immigration attorney quoted in a recent article about asylum for unaccompanied minors, “If you have an unrepresented child, their actual ability to do any of this as a pro se from my perspective is zero.[i]”
To learn more about the challenges unaccompanied minors face in navigating our courts, read our article, Thousands of unaccompanied minor immigrant children need comprehensive immigration reform.
In response to the children’s crisis, bar associations and legal aid groups are eager to meet the children’s’ need, “”Every single immigration lawyers’ bar association across the country is scrambling to try to find people to even take the first little tiny hearing for these cases,” said Laura Lichter, a Colorado-based immigration attorney and the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.[ii]”
There are resources for immigrants seeking free legal counsel and for attorneys who want to volunteer their time on immigration cases.
There are several places attorneys can volunteer their time on pro bono immigration cases. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, (“AILA”) has pro bono programs[iii] and an immigration lawyer search tool available for members of the public looking for an immigration lawyer to volunteer some of their time to pro bono cases. Another fine organization, the National Immigrant Justice Center serves Chicago’s immigrant communities and they have pro bono resources and information about training for lawyers and educational opportunities.
Chicago-based immigration attorney, KiKi M. Mosley dedicates at least 10 percent of her law practice to pro bono cases. She can also direct people interested in more information, to the right people and organizations offering aid.
Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues including DACA and related options for children arriving in the U.S. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.
[i] National Journal, Here’s How Hard It Is for Unaccompanied Minors to Get Asylum. By Rachel Roubein, Jul. 15, 2014.
[ii] CBS News, For unaccompanied immigrant children, a shortage of lawyers. By Rebecca Kaplan, Aug. 7, 2014.