Media Telebriefing: Experts Address COVID-19 Dangers for Unaccompanied Children

April 1, 2020

National Experts to Address COVID 19 Dangers for Unaccompanied Children on the Move, Their Attorneys, Law Enforcement, and Other Professional Staff, and to Countries of Return

Washington, DC – As we all continue to grapple with the growing impact of COVID-19 on the United States, the news is increasingly grim with more states issuing stay-at-home orders, and the White House extending social distancing recommendations to the end of April. In light of these facts and stern warnings from epidemiologists, it is inexplicable and dangerous that the Trump Administration has kept immigration courts open across the country and insisted that hearings for detained unaccompanied children proceed. It no less unacceptable that the administration is now violating domestic and international law by expelling vulnerable unaccompanied children arriving at the border, rather than taking measures that protect the health and safety of all while still upholding our legal and humanitarian obligations. Indeed, these very returns are jeopardizing the health and safety of both those children and the communities to which they’re sent back.  In addition, there are serious concerns about the health and safety of any children who are held in congregate care in U.S. custody for unnecessarily prolonged periods.  Please join us for this telebriefing to address these and other issues stemming from the COVID-19 crisis.


Wendy Young, President Kids in Need of Defense (KIND)

Alejandro Mayorkas, partner at WilmerHale, where he currently leads the firm’s Covid-19 Task Force. Before joining WilmerHale, Alejandro served as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.

Jayesh Rathod is Associate Dean for Experiential Education, Professor of Law, and Director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic at American University Washington College of Law.

Dr. Katherine Peeler, faculty member at Harvard Medical School and an asylum network member of Physicians for Human Rights.

Elisa Gahng is the Managing Attorney at KIND’s New York City office where she oversees KIND’s largest detained program, as well as our work with unaccompanied children who have been released from Office of Refugee Resettlement custody.


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