Incoming Biden Administration Urged to Restore Vital Protections for Unaccompanied Migrant Children

January 19, 2021

Washington, DC—As the nation prepares for the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) urges a new era of orderly process grounded in protection at the border that respects basic human rights and dignity and reflects our country’s values.  KIND notes that President-Elect Biden’s proposed immigration bill expected tomorrow could mark a significant step forward in a much-needed reset of U.S. immigration policy. The proposal is reported to address a wide array of topics, from border policy to refugee processing and conditions in Central America, all issues addressed in KIND’s recently released Blueprint: Concrete Steps to Protect Unaccompanied Children on the Move for the next administration.

Ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration, KIND President Wendy Young observed, “President-Elect Biden has the opportunity to restore our nation’s standing as a leader in refugee protection, including its longstanding commitment to ensuring the safety of unaccompanied children on the move. His administration’s approach to immigration must be comprehensive and address troubling conditions in migrants’ home countries, protections at our border, and access to adequate legal recourse—both substantive and procedural–once migrants arrive in the United States. While there is a lot of work to do to address the damage done to our nation’s immigration and asylum systems during the past four years, the incoming administration has demonstrated a commitment to rolling up its sleeves and immediately getting to work to protect those seeking safety in the United States, including unaccompanied children.”

The administration’s immigration plan is expected to include a return to U.S. laws, policies, and procedures that promote protection and fairness. Just last week, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris stated publicly that the incoming administration is committed to providing legal representation to children. KIND welcomed that announcement and urges the administration to implement additional proposed reforms contained in the organization’s blueprint. Specifically, KIND is urging the administration to make the following progress in its first 100 days in office:

  • Ensure unaccompanied children are not unlawfully expelled from the border and are allowed a fair opportunity to ask for protection in the United States. The Biden Administration must ensure due process safeguards for unaccompanied children that provide them with a full opportunity for their cases to be heard with assistance from counsel.
  • Dedicate increased resources for legal representation of unaccompanied children in U.S. immigration proceedings and support legislation ensuring counsel for all such children – a critical step towards a system in which no child faces complex and daunting proceedings alone.
  • Commit to reestablishing an in-country refugee program for children in northern Central America through which at-risk children in the region who qualify for protection can safely and quickly relocate to the United States.
  • Reset foreign policy towards Central America and Mexico and increase foreign assistance to the region with a priority on development programs that target the root causes of child migration.
  • Assemble a task force dedicated to reunifying families separated under the Trump Administration, providing full redress for children and parents who endured separation, and identifying and implementing policies to ensure that wrongful separations never happen again.

“KIND is eager to work in partnership with the Biden Administration to ensure the proper care and well-being of unaccompanied children wherever they are in their migration journey. We stand ready to assist with that effort to ensure that the United States is brought back into compliance with our domestic and international obligations to protect those seeking protection,” concluded Young.


Media Contact: Megan McKenna,, 202-631-9990