Today, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) commends the introduction of the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act of 2023 by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) that will guarantee counsel for all unaccompanied children seeking safety in the United States. The bill would uphold due process and fairness and strengthen the efficiency of the backlogged U.S. immigration court system.
“The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act codifies fundamental fairness and basic child protection,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “The bill recognizes that unaccompanied children – who range in age from toddlers to teenagers – cannot defend themselves in immigration court and that as a nation we must not risk sending these children back to the dangers they fled. We must ensure they have a fair chance to make their case for U.S. protection for the simple reason that they are children first and foremost.”
Of the 42,000 unaccompanied children’s cases completed through the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in 2021, nearly 20,000 children did not have legal representation. Completed EOIR cases from FY 2018 through the first half of FY 2021 showed that immigration judges were almost 100 times less likely to grant relief to unaccompanied children without counsel than unaccompanied children with counsel.
The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act would help to resolve the underrepresentation of unaccompanied children and make the immigration process for courts and children more efficient by providing unaccompanied children with legal representation throughout their immigration proceedings. The Act would also mandate government reporting on the provision of counsel to children and require that all individuals have an adequate timeline to review documents relevant to their case.
To speak with KIND VP of Policy and Advocacy Jennifer Podkul, or other KIND experts, please contact Shamari White at firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-714-4229.