Houston — Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) was recently selected to receive a $5,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation to support the organization’s Houston Field Office in its work to provide legal services for unaccompanied migrant children in the state. The funding will ensure that children are not forced to face the complex U.S. immigration system without access to counsel.
The United States continues to be a leading country of destination for thousands of unaccompanied children from around the world seeking safety and secure futures. Since 2014, over 31,000 children joined with their families in Texas. Harris County is one of the primary counties to which unaccompanied minors are released following their stay in federal facilities.
KIND is the preeminent U.S.-based nongovernmental organization devoted to the protection of unaccompanied and separated children, ensuring children have access to legal counsel and other vital services that protect their well-being throughout their migration journey. Now in its 12th year, KIND’s Houston office serves a population of unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in Harris and Montgomery counties who otherwise have very few legal services options to meet their immigration needs. KIND’s Houston staff provide legal representation and access to critical services, as well as training and mentoring for more than 400 pro bono attorneys who volunteer to represent KIND’s clients. KIND also advocates for improvements to local and national policies, procedures, and systems to ensure that children’s special needs are met, and their rights respected.
Since opening in 2009, KIND’s Houston office has grown to more than 30 staff and has accepted over 3,600 referrals for children in need of legal representation. The Houston office has aided over 580 children released from U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement facilities, each of whom is facing removal (deportation) proceedings. In addition, since March 2019, KIND has worked with children detained in immigration facilities in Houston, providing approximately 800 detained children with Know Your Rights legal presentations, intake screenings, court preparation, and, when needed, legal representation.
Without KIND’s support, made possible by grants such as this Texas Bar Foundation award, unaccompanied children do not have meaningful access to the legal processes intended for their protection. The price that children pay can be life threatening; without an attorney, these children are twice as likely to be ordered removed from the U.S. back to countries where their well-being and futures are at risk.
Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $22 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably-funded bar foundation.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990