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Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law



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            who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."       
- Franklin D. Roosevelt                          

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Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors Project

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Project Scope


The Unaccompanied Minors Project seeks to address both policy issues related to the treatment of unaccompanied migrant children, as well as mechanisms for the delivery of direct non-governmental community-based services to such children. This web site is intended to serve as a comprehensive resource for advocates and stakeholders highlighting key articles, studies, and advocacy efforts, providing a searchable resource database for representatives of minors, and making available to advocates new court decisions and proposed regulatory changes or legislation regarding unaccompanied minors

Current Efforts


The Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law (the “Center”) is collaborating with other legal services providers, community-based groups and other stakeholders to address the underlying causes of the 2014 “surge” of unaccompanied minors migrating from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras into the United States and how these minors are treated if they make their way to the U.S. The project will assess the legal challenges faced by unaccompanied minors making the perilous journey to the U.S., provide advocates with tools and technical support to represent unaccompanied minors, and identify and propose sustainable solutions to this mass migration based on compiled research and sourced recommendations from experts in and out of government in the three major sending countries in Central America, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. 

Initial research by the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law and other involved agencies have identified five common causes for the increase in migration of unaccompanied minors from Central America: (1) Gang violence in the home communities. (2) Abandonment, abuse or neglect of the minors (3) Lack of infrastructure supporting education in the home communities (4) Lack of infrastructure supporting employment and job training in the home communities (5) Desire to reunite with parents and other immediate family members in the United States.

One goal of the project is to prepare and circulate a consolidated and comprehensive report that explores the underlying causes of the migration, identifies potential consensus-based solutions to these causes, and proposes ways in which the U.S. (including the Government, NGOs, and other entities) may act to assist Central American entities in implementing these solutions.

In conjunction with preparing this report, the project hopes to coordinate meetings in both the U.S. and Central America at which stakeholders and experts from across the public spectrum can come together and discuss broad, workable plans to address the root causes of youth migration. These meetings will enable leaders, experts, community organizations and advocates to network, share ideas and potentially form a working group for executing proposed solutions and tracking progress.

The project will also focus on the treatment of unaccompanied minors once they are in the U.S., and the enforcement of their existing rights.  The Center is uniquely positioned to assess the treatment of unaccompanied minors due to its on-going role as class counsel in the Perez-Olano and Flores cases.  The project will make administrative, legislative and executive policy recommendations, and provide ongoing technical support, training and litigation support to legal services programs and community-based groups representing these minors.

Class Action Lawsuits


The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law Foundation serves as class counsel for all apprehended unaccompanied minors in the US, pursuant to nationwide settlements reached in two major cases:
  • Perez-Olano v. Johnson: settlement bars the Department of Homeland Security and its subordinate agencies, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS) and Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), from blocking abused, abandoned and neglected children's access to lawful status as Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJ) by (1) demanding that they obtain the consent of the federal government before seeking the protection of state juvenile courts, or (2) by declaring them ineligible for SIJ merely because they turn 18 before filing for SIJ benefits. (Download the settlement)
  • Flores v. Meese: The Flores nationwide class action settlement with the Federal Government, among other things, agreed to vastly improve conditions of detention of minors to release minors to a wide range of responsible adults, and except in rare circumstances to not hold minors in detention facilities for more than 72 hours.  (Download the settlement)

Read more in our Legal Updates page.


IN THE NEWS

Obama Plan To Protect Immigrants Backed By Over 30 Democratic Mayors
More than 30 Democratic mayors plan to file an amicus brief in support of President Barack Obama's efforts to shield more than 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation in an ongoing legal battle in Texas to overturn the White House policy.
The amicus brief opposes a lawsuit filed in Texas by Republican governors who claim Obama's executive action on immigration announced in November is illegal because the measure was not approved by the GOP-controlled Congress. The National League of Cities and U.S. Conference of Mayors, as well as Democratic leaders including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel claim Obama's immigration measures serve public interests across the nation. Read More

Anti-Immigration Lawsuit on Shaky Ground: Anti-immigrant lawyers file Brownsville lawsuit against

Last November, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that would halt the immediate deportation of 4.4 million undocumented immigrants and render another 290,000 eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. In response, opponents – a coalition of 25 states, led by Texas – filed suit in federal court challenging the president's authority to unilaterally act on the matter. Last Thursday, Jan. 15, in Brownsville, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen heard arguments on the injunction; he said he wouldn't issue a ruling on the request before Jan. 30. But this latest salvo isn't exactly striking fear in the hearts of Austin's immigrant rights advocates. Instead, it's seen as nothing more than a political statement with little chance of prevailing in court. Read More

No Asylum: Immigrants Locked Up in U.S. after Fleeing Violence
Watch the Reason TV video for a glimpse at who exactly is being held in border detention centers at record rates. The video profiles the story of Marquez and her three daughters, who came to the U.S. from El Salvador after facing violent threats and extortion from gang members. While Maria and her family were seeking asylum from a dangerous gang that operates unchecked by an incompetent and often corrupt government, they almost immediately found themselves locked up in a family detention center in the small Texas town of Karnes, where they've spent the past six months fighting to avoid deportation. Read More

Undocumented Migrant Children in Europe
The European Parlimentary Research Service has issued a report  undocumented migrant children in Europe, including recommendations on how to improve the coherence between migration policies and moral issues. This guide provides an overview over undocumented migrant children’s “triple vulnerability”, as defined by the Council of Europe: ‘as migrants, as persons in an irregular situation and as children’. The paper is useful to inform efforts in the U.S. in implementing strategies for improving the lives of undocumented migrant children.  Read More

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VIDEO/INTERVIEWS

Central American Violence Video

Migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — has risen steadily as violence has increased. Mary Small of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and Shaina Aber of the United States Jesuit Conference explain what is driving people to flee for their lives.






Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law Websites:
CENTERFORHUMANRIGHTS.ORG - CASA-LIBRE.ORG -
VOCESUNIDAS.ORG - NATIONALIMMIGRATIONREFORM.ORG - IMMIGRANTCHILDREN.ORG