BENEFITING: NEW YORK LEGAL ASSISTANCE GROUP INCORPORATED
Sixteen-year-old Silvia fled Honduras last month. She came across the Mexican border with her fourteen-year-old sister Sonia and her six-month-old baby Jorge. In the neighborhood where the girls grew up, gang activity is rampant. Their sister-in-law was raped and killed by a gang member three years ago. After serving a short prison sentence, the suspected murderer was released and began threatening to kill Silvia and her baby. Unable to finish high school and fearing for their lives, the girls fled to the US. They were detained by authorities for two weeks before being shipped to New York City to reunite with their mother while awaiting their court dates.
Silvia, Sonia and Jorge are just three of the 89 unrepresented immigrant youth screened by NYLAG’s attorneys at a recent immigration clinic in New York City.
All three are potentially eligible for asylum, but without representation and unable to speak English, their chances of success in Immigration Court are minimal. The greater likelihood is that they will be deported back to Honduras.
The need for legal assistance for large numbers of young immigrants has moved from pressing to desperate. Of the projected 145,000 children who will have arrived in the US by year’s end, a majority is expected to relocate to New York City. Since the beginning of 2014, over 3,300 children have already been released into New York State, with as many as 900 active cases on the New York Immigration Court’s juvenile docket. An estimated 10,000 more children have evaded detection by law enforcement and arrived in New York without familial support or involvement by immigration authorities.
In anticipation of an unprecedented case load, the Court has announced the creation a “surge docket” that will enable it to schedule 35 respondents per day, five days per week, indefinitely – translating into an astounding 700 child respondents per month.
These children need and deserve legal representation in Court, but by pushing their cases to the front of the new docket, there is a high risk that they will be forced to appear alone and unprepared. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that at least 58% of unaccompanied minors are eligible for some form of immigration relief. NYLAG knows firsthand from its clinics that the majority of these children have compelling cases for asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, or both.
To address the urgent need to screen a huge volume of children at once, NYLAG plans to continue conducting ongoing large-scale legal clinics, twice per month, for as many as 300 unaccompanied minors at a time.
But we need your help to take these children’s cases, prepare them, and represent them in Court. Complex immigration cases take dozens of hours each to complete, and skilled advocates are scarce.
Every $1,000 we raise means we can represent one more child in immigration court. Every $1,000 is a life we can save.
Visit www.nylag.org/uac to view the full infographic and learn more.