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Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth in New York: Findings from a Participatory Action Research Study


April 24, 2015

Registration: 12:30pm - 1:00pm
Program: 1:00pm – 4:00pm

New York Law School
185 West Broadway, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10013

As recent events illustrate, migration of children and youth has increased tenfold in the past three years. While researchers have explored the push factors driving Central American children to migrate and there has been tremendous mobilization across the U.S. to improve access to legal services, less attention has been paid to youth’s overall circumstances after resettling in local communities. In 2013, the Feerick Center partnered with the Vera Institute of Justice, Catholic Charities Community Services, and Atlas: DIY to conduct an exploratory study to assess the needs of unaccompanied immigrant youth living in New York as well as the needs and perceptions of government and community service providers who interact with them across a broad range of service sectors—including education, employment, health, housing, child welfare, and justice systems. In panel discussions followed by issue-specific breakout sessions, unaccompanied immigrant youth, researchers (including directly-impacted peer researchers), service providers, and policy makers will discuss the study results, analyze gaps in current policies and programs, and brainstorm creative solutions.


PROGRAM (Click Here to Download PDF)

I. 12:30pm – 1:00pm
Registration

II. 1:00pm – 1:05pm
Welcome
Dora Galacatos, Executive Director, Feerick Center for Social Justice, Fordham Law School

III. 1:05pm – 1:50pm
Research Methodology, Findings, and Recommendations

Moderator
Olga Byrne, Project Director, New York Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Project, Feerick Center for Social Justice, Fordham Law School

Speakers

  • Lucia Goyen, Research Associate, Center on Immigration and Justice, Vera Institute of Justice
  • Karen Mallozzi, Research Associate, Center on Immigration and Justice, Vera Institute of Justice
  • Marielos Ramos, Youth Peer Researcher, Catholic Charities
  • Laura Simich, Research Director, Center on Immigration and Justice, Vera Institute of Justice
  • Geraldine Marrero, Youth Peer Researcher, Atlas: DIY

IV. 1:50pm – 2:35pm
Government and Service Provider Initiatives and Responses

Moderator
Olga Byrne, Project Director, New York Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Project, Feerick Center for Social Justice, Fordham Law School

Speakers

  • Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner, NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • Yalitza Vasquez-Johnson (invited), NYC Department of Education
  • Principal Fausto Salazar, New World High School
  • NYC Administration for Children's Services (invited)
  • Dr. Cristina Muñiz de la Peña, Mental Health Director and co-founder of Terra Firma, Montefiore Medical Center

V. 2:35pm – 2:45pm
Break

VI. 2:45pm – 3:25pm
Breakout Sessions


Co-facilitators
Immigrant Youth Study Participants: Gabriel, Joseph, Miriam, and Victor

Session topics

  1. Identity and discrimination (in Spanish)
  2. Education
  3. Immigrant integration and inclusion 

VII. 3:45pm – 4:00pm
Closing Remarks
Lenni Benson, Professor, New York Law School; Director, Safe Passage Project


VIII. 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Reception
Please join us for some refreshments and an opportunity to connect with other conference participants!

Convening Co-Sponsors

  • Atlas: DIY
  • Catholic Charities Community Services
  • Safe Passage Project
  • Fordham Law School’s Feerick Center for Social Justice
  • The Vera Institute of Justice

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The Feerick Center and the Vera Institute are grateful to the unaccompanied immigrant youth who participated in the study. We recognize their expertise and resiliency as directly impacted individuals who must navigate complex bureaucratic structures that may not always accommodate their needs and experiences appropriately. We would like to thank the key informants for speaking to us with candor about their efforts and sharing their expertise on systemic and programmatic challenges. We are particularly grateful for the support the project received from the New York Community Trust, the Leon Lowenstein Foundation, and the Viola Bernard Foundation, which allowed us to conduct this study, as well as for pro bono support from the law firm of Jenner & Block. We would also like to thank the two community-based partner organizations, Catholic Charities Community Services and Atlas DIY, which participated in the development of the study, helped to recruit and select peer researchers, and hosted focus groups. We are thankful to the Safe Passage Project and New York Law School for hosting this convening. The Feerick Center would like to thank Rodrigo Bacus, Laura Wooley, and Razeen Zaman, Fordham law students who provided support to every aspect of the project. Finally, this study would not have been possible without the dedication and insight of our peer researchers: Geraldine Marrero and Marielos Ramos.