Caught at the border: Don’t forget the unaccompanied minors who end up detained

It is no secret that issues related to immigration and refugees have taken center stage with Trump administration. Rest assured that heated dinner conversations have taken place across the nation, that friendships have been stretched and communities stressed all surrounding the topic of immigration. However, unaccompanied minors are rarely spoken about in the mainstream media. In the first six months of 2016, 27,754 unaccompanied minors were apprehended by U.S. Border Control. These young children are detained and await processing for an average of 35 days.

Take time and imagine 35 days in a detainment center, in an unknown country, with unknown outcomes. Scary, right? Now go ahead and imagine walking into a court room for an immigration hearing where you do not have legal representation. This is your make-it-or-break-it moment, the determining factor for your future. You are a child, and you are alone. Make your case.

As of right now, U.S. law does require the court to provide legal representation to undocumented immigrant persons, including children. Thousands of kids go through an entire court hearing without legal aid, or a full understanding of what is happening. Immigration experts believe that if unaccompanied minors had proper legal representation that nearly 87 percent of children would qualify as asylees, meaning they have a well-founded fear of returning to their home country. However, the lack of representation tends to send these children right back into the violent communities that they are fleeing.

Scary, right?

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