The Robin Hood Foundation, New York Community Trust, and New York City Council have announced a $1.9 million public-private partnership to support legal organizations assisting unaccompanied minors in immigration proceedings.
The Unaccompanied Minor Children Initiative will provide a coordinated response to the need for free, high-quality legal representation and access to social, mental health, and medical services for more than a thousand children appearing on the juvenile and surge dockets at New York Immigration Court. The funds include $1 million in city council funds earmarked for legal services in the FY 2015 budget, $550,000 from Robin Hood, and $360,000 from NYCT.
The initiative is designed to increase access to counsel for children in removal proceedings — the most critical and urgent need in the city's immigration system — by leveraging high-quality pro bono representation and ensuring due process for minors who are struggling to navigate the system alone. Grantees include the Legal Aid Society, The Door, Catholic Charities Community Services, the Safe Passage Project, Make the Road New York, Central American Legal Assistance, Kids in Need of Defense, and Atlas: DIY (Developing Immigrant Youth).
"In 2014, more than twenty-five hundred children will flee violence in Central America on their own and settle in New York City," said Eric Weingartner, managing director of Robin Hood. "Of those twenty-five hundred, approximately 60 percent won't have a lawyer to help them claim asylum; without legal representation, these children are four times as likely to be sent back to the dangerous countries they fled. Their claims for status need to be heard, and through this partnership with the city and New York Community Trust, we will ensure they get the best representation for their day in court."