Immigrant Children’s Assistance Project (ICAP)

ProBAR Children's Project


Founded in 2003 with just one staff-person, ProBAR’s Children’s Project now has a team of ten attorneys, two Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representatives, twenty paralegals, and two full-time volunteers. The Children’s Project currently serves more than 1,000 detained, unaccom­panied children at shelters in South Texas by provid­ing them with “Know Your Rights” presentations and coordinating their legal representation.

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Photo © 2011 Michelle Frankfurter

Humanitarian Crisis at the Southwest Border

The nation has recently shifted its attention to the Southwest border, where tens of thousands of adults, families and children have entered the United States seeking safety, protection, family reunification and economic opportunity.  Between October 2013 and July 2014, 57,000 children have been processed by Customs and Border Protection at the Southwest border.  This is more than double the number of children apprehended in FY 2013.  ProBAR steps in soon after the children are transferred from CBP to shelters run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The children served by ProBAR’s Children’s Project are among the most vulnerable individuals in need of legal representation in the U.S. today. They are separated from family and detained in remote facilities where they will eventually face removal proceedings in immigration court. They range in age from newborns to 17 year olds. Most do not speak English and have limited education. Many are victims of violence in their homes, their communities, or during their journey to the United States.  To learn more about this crisis, see the following ABA statement entitled “A Humanitarian Call to Action: Unaccompanied Children at the Southwest Border.”

Why Your Help Is Critical

Many of the children we serve are eligible for protection under U.S. law, including the Special Immigrant Juvenile visa, U-visa, T-visa, or asylum. However, due to their youth, language barriers, and the complexity of U.S. immigration law and proce­dure, these children face insurmountable obstacles to proving their claims for that protection before an immigration judge or asylum officer on their own. In addition, the children we serve typically do not have financial or other means to obtain private representa­tion.  Representation is needed now for children mostly after they reunify with family and other sponsors throughout the United States. 

Volunteer Opportunities During The Current Crisis

Historically, about 85% of unaccompanied children have been reunified with approved sponsors within an average of 35 days.  With the current surge of migrants and refugees at the southwest border, accelerated reunification, in as little 7 days, without legal screenings, is occurring. Due to the rapid reunifications, the ProBAR Children’s Project is now focusing on giving Know Your Rights presentations and completing legal screenings to as many children as possible. As a result, ProBAR has also updated the ways in which you can make a difference. Below are the three most effective ways to help our cause:

  • Make a donation directly to the ProBAR Children's Project.

  • Volunteer with ProBAR to provide screening services to detained children if you meet the following qualifications:
    • You are fluent in Spanish;
    • You are able to spend one month or more working out of our Children’s Project in Harlingen, Texas;
    • You are a licensed attorney in good standing;
    • You are not an attorney but have a background in social work or immigration services;
    • You are flexible, have your own vehicle and agree to be trained by ProBAR staff on how to screen detained children.

  • Take a pro bono case of a child in removal proceedings in the area where you live:
    • Over 57,000 unaccompanied children have entered the United States between October 2013 and July 2014.  All of these children have been placed in removal proceedings and over 85% of them have been reunified in town and cities throughout the United States.  They currently have no right to appointed counsel and the majority of them will face adversarial proceedings on their own opposed by an experienced Trial Attorney.  You can make a huge difference by taking a pro bono case where you live. 
    • The following agencies can match you with a pre-screened client and provide mentoring services:
    • If you need assistance in finding an agency near you contact us at probarchildren@abaprobar.org.

Contact Us

ProBAR Children's Project
119 W. Van Buren Avenue
Suite 204
Harlingen, TX 78550

Tel: 956/365-3775
Fax: 956/365-3789

probarchildren@abaprobar.org

ambar.org/probarchildren

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