CABA Pro Bono Legal Services (CABA Pro Bono) provides free legal services to unaccompanied immigrant children. These children undergo a perilous journey to the United States in order to escape the dangers facing them in their native countries. Unfortunately, the majority of these children have also been abused, abandoned and/or neglected by their own parents.
Unaccompanied Immigrant Children
By definition an unaccompanied immigrant child (UIC) is “a child who has no lawful immigration status in the United States, is under 18 years of age, and has no parent or legal guardian in the country present or available to provide care and physical custody.” While UICs come from all parts of the world, over 70 percent are from Central America. In 2009, approximately 80 percent of UICs were between 15 and 18 years of age.
With little or no money, these children may spend weeks or even months trekking through rough terrain and deserts. Some may be fortunate to travel by bus, but others travel for days on the roofs of trains that stop close to the U.S. – Mexico border. These UICs also face added dangers: loss of a limb, being kidnapped by a drug cartel, being robbed or beaten by a gang, even death. And unfortunately, many of these children are victimized.
Navigating the Legal System
Even upon their arrival in the U.S., some children continue to be victimized through indentured servitude, the commercial sex trade, abuse, abandonment and neglect. Additionally they are faced with the monumental challenge of representing themselves at their deportation hearings. Because they are not provided with free legal representation, navigating the legal system is nearly impossible. As a result, CABA Pro Bono addresses the need for increased access to free legal counsel for this vulnerable population.
How you can help
Our program has been instrumental in assisting these children assert their right to remain in the U.S. and in safety. Taking on representation of even one or two children this year will make a difference to the child, to the court and to the community. CABA Pro Bono will provide training and ongoing mentoring. Please contact the Program Supervisor for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know a child who is an Unaccompanied Immigrant Child and needs free legal assistance, please contact us at 305-646-0046.