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The Justice Center News blog features our advocacy on issues affecting low-income New Yorkers today and the latest CBJC happenings.  For press releases, click here. For publications, click here.

Focus on Immigration: The Youngest Clients

by CBJC Staff July 20, 2015

The New York Immigration Court, like most immigration courts around the country, continues to be inundated with young Respondents who have fled their home countries in Central America.  As a result, the courts have chosen to prioritize newly arriving unaccompanied minors and adults with children through what has been dubbed the “surge docket.”  As the number of children seeking refuge in the United States continues to grow, so too does the need for competent counsel.

Danny Alicea, Fragomen Fellow at the City Bar Justice Center, with one of the youngest respondents the Justice Center has ever seen.

The role of an attorney is crucial: helping clients navigate the immigration court process, screening them for forms of immigration relief, and getting them connected with medical and social services providers.  A great portion of these “surge docket” respondents qualify for humanitarian relief such as asylum, withholding of removal, or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status–relief, that for many would be impossible to obtain without counsel.

Another value that comes with having an attorney is the sense of security that many feel when they have an advocate preparing them for the immigration proceedings and accompanying them throughout the process.  Legal service providers have stationed themselves in immigration courts during “surge dockets” to ensure that Respondents on the priority docket are screened for relief, and in hope of finding them pro bono counsel.  The City Bar Justice Center has sent volunteer attorneys to assist with such screenings and has also taken on many new cases involving minors. Our Immigration legal team regularly volunteers at these dockets and holds trainings on this topic.


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