Securing Equal JusticeSupporting Immigrants

Immigrant Children

Every year, an astonishing number of children enter the United States without a parent or guardian. The reasons they set out on long and perilous journeys—violent gangs, domestic abuse, and abject poverty, among others—are well known. But what happens once they get here? Many come into contact with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and are placed in the care and custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). While in custody or after release to a sponsor, the children must go through the daunting process of immigration proceedings in court, a task made even more difficult without legal representation. Our programs provide information and representation to these children through these processes to protect their due process rights.  

Additionally, an unusual study co-led by professional researchers at Vera and young adults who came alone to the United States earlier in their lives reveals the difficulties young solo immigrants routinely face: stigmatized as undocumented, shut out of school, made homeless when relationships with relatives are strained, and a host of other troubles. Yet the study also suggests how resilient they are, a sign of their untapped potential. For communities nationwide, this study can be the beginning of blueprint for how to welcome some of the most intrepid new Americans.

Related Work

Series: Covid-19

Unaccompanied Children Suffer as Hearings are Sped Up, Switched to Video During COVID-19 Crisis

Video teleconference (VTC) hearings allow unaccompanied children to participate in court proceedings without physically appearing in court. The children answer questions from a judge on a screen, who might be translated by an interpreter in a third location. Such hearings are commonplace in adult immigration proceedings, despite concerns about thei ...

Blog Post
  • Erica Bryant
    Erica Bryant
April 14, 2020
Blog Post

New York Immigrant Family Unity Project lays groundwork for constitutional victory

A recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit established that an immigrant is constitutionally entitled to a bond hearing within six months of being detained and must be released on bond unless the government provides compelling evidence that he or she is a flight risk or danger to the community. This important dec ...

Blog Post
  • Bettina Rodriguez Schlegel
    Bettina Rodriguez Schlegel
December 28, 2015
Blog Post

Struggle for Identity and Inclusion

Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth in New York City

Youth have been arriving at U.S. borders on their own since the early days of Ellis Island, but it was not until the summer of 2014—when the number of unaccompanied immigrant youth arriving to the United States from Central America increased nearly tenfold from recent years—that child migrants became the topic of an urgent political debate. While l ...

  • Laura Simich, Karen Berberich
August 04, 2015