Children’s Legal Program
AI Justice’s Children’s Legal Program provides free legal services to immigrant children, many of whom have suffered abuse, abandonment, or neglect. Whether these children have been mistreated in their country of origin, during the arduous journey to the United States, or upon arriving in this country, AI Justice staff are committed to helping them navigate the complex pathway to safety and justice.
Despite their young age and the trauma they’ve often endured, immigrant children are not entitled to free legal assistance. If not for our Children’s Legal Program, thousands of children each year would be forced to navigate the convoluted worlds of the State Juvenile and Family Courts, Immigration Courts and the Asylum Office alone.
AI Justice is the only organization authorized to provide legal services to children detained in local shelters about their basic rights and screen their cases to identify those eligible for relief from deportation. The team serves non-detained immigrant children living in our community with a parent or guardian and those who are in foster care. Staff were on the frontlines of the efforts to reunite families during the family separation crisis.
Having an attorney is literally a matter of life and death for many children in immigration proceedings, since 9 out of 10 children without representation are ordered deported to the dangers they fled, while those with attorneys are 5 times more likely to be granted protection. That’s why, in addition staff’s regular work with clients, our attorneys appear as Friend of the Court to advise and counsel children who appear before a judge without representation.
What staff witness on the frontlines and what they hear from their young clients informs agency policy and advocacy initiatives. Staff have played a critical role in shaping laws, like the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, and educates our nation’s leaders about critical issues impacting immigrant children through Congressional testimony and groundbreaking reports.
The Children’s Legal Program is funded in part by The Children’s Trust. The Children’s Trust is a dedicated source of revenue established by voter referendum to improve the lives of children and families in Miami-Dade County.