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Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

The New York Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Project supports coordinated efforts aimed at improving state and local policy and practice toward unaccompanied immigrant children. The Project grew out of work that began at a convening held at Fordham in May 2012.

New York City and its neighboring counties are home to thousands of young immigrants who are separated from their parents or primary caregivers and many who are entirely on their own without any family support. These “unaccompanied immigrant children” are susceptible to grave—even life-threatening—legal and social problems, including exploitation or abuse by traffickers, smugglers, employers, relatives, or other adults; homelessness; lack of healthcare and mental healthcare; difficulty accessing education; and inadequate access to justice, particularly legal representation. Their undocumented immigration status underlies or exacerbates these struggles. As our understanding of the complex challenges faced by unaccompanied immigrant children grows, there is a need to come together to share information and work toward improving responses to this vulnerable population.

Through a broad, coordinated effort with local child advocacy groups, academic programs, researchers, and government stakeholders, the Project aims to improve state and local level policy and practice affecting unaccompanied immigrant children. Law students will provide integral support in the form of legal and policy research, preparing and conducting surveys, helping to plan stakeholder convenings, and participating in all other aspects of the Project. A seminar on children and immigration will be offered in Spring 2014.

The Project is directed by Olga Byrne and is supported by a generous grant from a private donor.