Unaccompanied Children Fund (LEAF)

RAICES Legal Representation, Education, and Advocacy Fund (LEAF) for Unaccompanied Children

 

Imagine children as young as five-years-old forced to represent themselves in a courtroom. Although this may sound unrealistic, this scenario plays out on a daily basis right here in the U.S. in our immigration courts.

 

Immigrants who are represented are up to five times more likely to establish a right to remain in the U.S. than those who are unrepresented. However, non-citizens are seldom legally entitled to government-funded representation, leaving most unrepresented — even children.

Unaccompanied children coming to the U.S. to seek immigration relief are often fleeing violence and gangs in their home countries. Many children experience trauma before or along their journey, and they are certainly not equipped to navigate a legal system that is designed to thwart even adult asylum applicants.

Current immigration policies and practices negatively affect many children’s legal cases. In order to create a future where these children have the chance for a peaceful and successful life, they need access to legal and social services in order to have a fighting chance to win their case before the immigration court.

We believe that all people deserve the right to due process and legal representation, and this is especially important for vulnerable, unaccompanied children.

RAICES established the LEAF fund to ensure that children coming to this country can receive quality legal representation both in detention centers and once they are released. In 2018, our specially-trained team provided ongoing legal counsel to 400 children, and more than 4,500 children received training to help them understand their rights here in the United States.

LEAF is a major source of support for the many RAICES programs benefitting unaccompanied children. Our children’s programs include:

  • “Know Your Rights” presentations and legal screenings for thousands of children
  • An advocate for children who have had their rights violated
  • Legal representation for children both in detention and post-release
  • Post-detention care, including ongoing access to counsel for children in their immigration cases
  • Assistance with other fees associated with immigration documentation, forms, and applications

Out of all the populations we work with, unaccompanied children are the most vulnerable. Donate today to our efforts to provide legal and other services for children during and after detention.