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June 07, 2019

Statement of Bob Carlson, president, American Bar Association Re: Legal and education service cuts for unaccompanied migrant youth

WASHINGTON, DC, June 7, 2019 – The American Bar Association is deeply disturbed by the government’s recent decision to cut off funding for legal aid, English classes and recreational activities such as soccer for the unaccompanied migrant children who are staying in federally contracted shelters. 

The ABA developed and adopted a comprehensive set of standards that should govern the treatment of unaccompanied immigrant children, including when they are in U.S. government custody.  The ABA Standards for the Custody, Placement and Care; Legal Representation; and Adjudication of Unaccompanied Alien Children in the United States provides unaccompanied children the right to legal representation and legal information, such as know-your-rights presentations, and also specifically includes a right to education and recreational activities.

The ABA recognizes that there has been a spike in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border and that has put a tremendous strain on resources. But that does not abrogate our nation’s responsibility to adequately care for children who are within our borders. Congress needs to provide needed funds – immediately – and the federal government must fulfill its obligations to care for the minors in its custody.

Please click here for a biography and photo of Bob Carlson, president of the American Bar Association.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our
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