By Tanisha Bowens
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan declared May 25 National Missing Children Day. The day is meant to highlight the importance of parents securing high-quality images of their children and to remind the broader public of the importance of amber alerts. Here at CLINIC, we see this day as an opportunity to highlight another group of children that gets lost in our society.
Every year, more than 15,000 immigrant children arrive in the United States, unaccompanied by an adult and placed in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. These children languish in need of legal and social services. Many are traumatized and scared about what will happen to them in government custody. CLINIC offers a helping hand to these children. Through its National Pro Bono Project for Children. CLINIC serves as a bridge to services that may otherwise be unavailable or unreachable to immigrant children in removal proceedings. We see an important need to serve this vulnerable population. We are guided by our own Catholic teaching which reminds us that children should be protected and assisted. Many of these immigrant children arrive in the United States alone, and the church and CLINIC provides essential assistance for reuniting these children with family.
CLINIC matches these immigrant children with pro bono attorneys who volunteer their time to be an advocate for them in the immigration courts. We also seek the assistance of volunteer interpreters and other individuals who can dedicate translation or interpretation skills or even driving a child to a court hearing or attorney’s office. Research has shown that pro bono assistance is critical for these children. Fifty-eight percent of unaccompanied children are released from detention if they have an attorney and 24 percent are released before their first hearing if they have the assistance of a pro bono lawyer.
As we remember the vulnerability of children, we want to offer opportunities for making a difference. CLINIC welcomes volunteers for the National Pro Bono Project for Children as interpreters and for those who can provide legal assistance. We also want people to spread the word so that as many children as possible can be helped.
To volunteer with the National Pro Bono Project for Children, complete this form
To sign up to be a pro bono attorney, click here.
Tanisha is the Senior Project Coordinator for the National Pro Bono Project for Children.