September 24, 2018

Fair Treatment and Access to Justice for Immigrant Children

ABA Policy Resolution 115
Adopted February 9, 2015


RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, territorial and tribal governments, courts, and agencies to establish laws, rules, regulations, and policies to implement the following principles:

  1. Counsel should be appointed for unaccompanied children at government expense at all stages of the immigration process including initial interviews before United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Asylum Offices and at all proceedings necessary to obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, asylum and other remedies;

  2. Immigration courts should not conduct any hearings, including final hearings, involving the taking of pleadings or presentation of evidence before an unaccompanied child has had a meaningful opportunity to consult with counsel about  the child’s specific legal options; 

  3. State court judges and staff should receive training to learn to effectively and timely hear and adjudicate petitions or motions on behalf of immigrant children, including for the purpose of making the predicate findings that are required for a child to obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status; and

  4. Due to firm deadlines in federal immigration laws which limit certain immigration remedies by age, state, territorial and tribal courts with jurisdiction should consider implementing specialized calendars to timely hear and adjudicate petitions on behalf of immigrant children to determine predicate matters that are required for the children to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, including creating expedited processes for children aged 16 and older.