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Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors: An Overview. Background   Unaccompanied Alien Child (UAC): <18, Has no lawful immigration status in the U.S., and Has.

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Presentation on theme: "Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors: An Overview. Background   Unaccompanied Alien Child (UAC): <18, Has no lawful immigration status in the U.S., and Has."— Presentation transcript:

1 Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors: An Overview

2 Background   Unaccompanied Alien Child (UAC): <18, Has no lawful immigration status in the U.S., and Has no parent or legal guardian in the country present or available to provide care and physical custody. 6 U.S.C. §279(g)(2) If neither a parent not legal guardian is with the child at the time of apprehension – or within geographical proximity – DHS classifies the child as unaccompanied. This designation remains with the child throughout removal proceedings.

3 Who are UAC? From ORR/FY 2013

4 Who are UAC?   Most are between 14 and 17 years old.   24% are under 14. In FY 2012, only 17% were under 14 Children under 12 are the fastest growing group of children arriving at the border   UAC come to the US: Fleeing from persecution or violence To reunite with a family member already residing in the US i.e. Parents w/ TPS To escape extreme poverty or to study Because they are trafficked/coerced From ORR/FY 2013

5 UAC Numbers From ORR/FY 2013

6

7 Apprehension   Most minors are apprehended trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border or shortly after crossing by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)

8 Internal Apprehensions   Immigration arrest may take place at various points during the juvenile or criminal justice process.   Sometimes, before initiating any charges in the state system, local law enforcement will contact ICE to report that a child who may be an undocumented immigrant is in its custody.   Other children go through juvenile delinquency or criminal court proceedings and serve time in a state or county facility, after which authorities contact ICE.

9 Referral to ORR   If a person who appears to be a UAC is taken into DHS custody, CBP or ICE places him/her in a temporary DHS detention facility, ensuring that he/she is not housed with unrelated adults.

10 Referral to ORR   DHS officers attempt to determine whether the person is younger than 18 and unaccompanied.   DHS can release a child to a parent or adult relative, but many fear to come forward.   Once they determine that person is a minor and unaccompanied, an officer interviews the child.   Referral to ORR is then made.   UAC should be transferred to ORR custody within 72 hours of identification, but there are delays during a surge

11 Mexico and Canada   Under the TVPRA, special rules apply to children who come from Mexico and Canada.   These children may request a hearing before an immigration court judge or to return immediately to their home country through a process called “voluntary return.”   If they choose the latter option, CBP conducts a screening. Minor is referred to ORR if: He/she may have been a victim of trafficking or is at risk of being trafficked if she/she returns to home country, or He/she has credible fear of persecution, or He/she is incapable of making an independent decision to withdraw an application for admission into the U.S., or DHS official cannot make a determination re: above criteria within 48 hours.

12 Intake and Placement with ORR   ORR maintains a network of shelters around the country.   Minors should be placed in the “least restrictive setting” appropriate to their ages and special needs.   Facility types: Shelter Staff-secure Secure Transitional (short-term) foster care “Camps” and other emergency facilities (i.e. Port Hueneme)   Minors are transferred to emergency shelter facilities only if they pass the medical/mental health screening and will be quickly reunified with a sponsor (normally a parent).

13 SHELTER SERVICES C lassroom instruction V ocational education M edical services R ecreation G roup Therapy I ndividual Counseling R eligious Services F amily Reunification

14 Release from ORR Custody   Average length of stay in ORR custody for FY 2013: days (down from 50 days in 2012)

15 FAMILY REUNIFICATION Order of Preference for Sponsors: Parent “Category 1” Parent “Category 1” legal guardian legal guardian Adult relative Adult relative Individual/entity designated by parent/guardian Individual/entity designated by parent/guardian Licensed program Licensed program Adult individual/entity when no other alternative Adult individual/entity when no other alternative

16 Reunification Process   Interview child to ID special needs and potential sponsors.   Reach out to potential sponsors and parents/LG   Required documentation: Proof of relationship between sponsor and minor If sponsor is not parent or LG, parent or LG must provide documentation of their relationship to minor and a notarized letter designating the adult who will care for the UAC upon release. Family Reunification Packet (age, gender, address, household composition, employment, immigration status) Fingerprints (criminal record, history of abuse)

17 Family Reunification – Ensuring Safety of Child & Suitability of Sponsor All Potential Sponsors Must Family Reunification – Ensuring Safety of Child & Suitability of Sponsor All Potential Sponsors Must  Have a “clean” background check;  Have enough income to support the child;  Be committed to the child’s safety and well- being, including enrollment in school.  Ensure the child will appear at all future immigration court hearings and DHS appointments.

18 Family Reunification  Case Manager recommendation →  Case Coordinator (CC) and FFS →  CC separate recommendation →  FFS release or home study or post release services referral determination →  Case Worker makes administrative referral → Home Study or post release follow-up services provider

19 HOME STUDIES – FOLLOW UP Post-release ORR case managers are assigned to any case for which safety and well-being of UAC, sponsor family unit, or community are questionable Mandatory TVPRA categories: Victim of severe form of trafficking in persons Victim of severe form of trafficking in persons Special needs with disability (ADA) Special needs with disability (ADA) Victim of physical or sexual abuse =health or welfare significantly harmed Victim of physical or sexual abuse =health or welfare significantly harmed Proposed sponsor presents risk Proposed sponsor presents risk of exploitation or trafficking to child

20 What happens if reunification is not possible?   If the minor qualifies for legal relief, they can be transferred to federal long-term foster care (LTFC).   Children who win relief in the following categories while in LTFC are transferred to the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program (URM) Refugees Asylees Cuban/Haitian entrants Victims of trafficking Special Immigrant Juveniles who were in ORR custody or were receiving benefits as Cuban or Haitian entrants when dependency was established.   If minor does not qualify for relief, VD/DO is only option.

21 Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program   State Refugee Coordinators contract with licensed foster care agencies to provide URM services, sometimes via state or county child welfare agencies.   For a child to be in the URM program, the state, county or a private agency needs to establish custody or legal guardianship of the minor.   Serves unaccompanied minors: Refugees Asylees Cuban/Haitian entrants Victims of trafficking Special Immigrant Juveniles who were in ORR custody or were receiving benefits as Cuban or Haitian entrants when dependency was established. For cases referred in the U.S., ORR conducts an eligibility determination for cases, which culminates in an approval decision.

22 Long Term Care   Usually remain in URM program for 3-4 years (usually enter as teens)   Depending on the state and youth compliance with program requirements: Foster care ends between 18 and 21; Independent living benefits and services may last until age 21; and Support for education or vocational training may extended to age 23.

23 UAC Challenges  UAC move through the shelters too quickly to receive legal/mental health screenings  ORR Case Managers are under immense pressure to reunify UAC quickly, which has led to an increase in: Undiagnosed medical/mental health issues Undiagnosed medical/mental health issues Insufficient post-release support for UAC with special needs Insufficient post-release support for UAC with special needs Inadequate/exploitative/unengaged sponsors Inadequate/exploitative/unengaged sponsors Housing/food instability Housing/food instability


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