KIND Statement: New Trump Administration policies eviscerate protections for children alone

March 3, 2020

Washington, DCOn March 9, the Trump Administration will launch a pilot project in Houston immigration court through which all cases of detained unaccompanied children will be heard before a judge who joins the proceedings via video teleconference (VTC), a step that comes on the heels of a new Administration directive requiring immigration judges to complete their unaccompanied children’s cases in 60 days. Noting that these new policies eviscerate vital legal protections for unaccompanied children on the move, Kids in Need of Defense President Wendy Young issued the following statement:

Press Telebriefing Recording

On Wednesday March 4th KIND hosted a press telebriefing with the American Bar Association (ABA), speakers included:

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) President Wendy Young
American Bar Association President Judy Perry Martinez
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) Director of Policy Jason Boyd
KIND Houston Advisory Committee Member John Sullivan

“These policies are evidence that the Trump Administration is doubling down on its extraordinary efforts to stack the deck against unaccompanied children through policies that decimate basic protections in their immigration proceedings. Research reveals that video-teleconferencing has a profound and harmful impact on children’s legal cases.[1] These kids, some barely old enough to write their own name, have a tough enough time understanding what is happening in immigration proceedings when their cases have all involved parties present in person with child-friendly accommodations. The remote nature of VTC makes the proceedings even more difficult for them to understand and it isolates the child, circumstances that render the process even more confusing and unreal.

Relatedly, the new 60-day requirement will make it nearly impossible for unaccompanied children to obtain counsel or file their applications for protection ahead of this arbitrary deadline. Due to high demand and the sensitive nature of these cases, it often takes at least two months for a child to find an attorney. The Administration’s action will undoubtedly result in thousands more children appearing in court without attorneys and without the ability to fairly make their case for protection.

Together, these new policies essentially slam the door on due process and a chance for these unaccompanied kids to seek protection in the United States.”


[1] Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, Immigration Hearings by Video: A Threat to Children’s Right To Fair Proceedings, updated January 2020.


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