The Life-saving Impact of Access to Legal Representation

May 18, 2021

Washington, DCKids in Need of Defense (KIND) President Wendy Young had the following statement regarding the announcement that President Biden will sign today a Presidential Memorandum to expand access to legal representation and the courts:

“An attorney can literally be life-saving in the cases of unaccompanied children whose future and well-being depend on the outcome of their immigration proceedings. It is all but impossible for a child without a lawyer to effectively make their case for humanitarian protection in the United States. In fact, children with attorneys are 70 times more likely to win their cases in immigration court. Unrepresented children, meanwhile, face grave risk of return to the very harm they fled.

Despite these life-and-death stakes, year after year the majority of unaccompanied children do not have attorneys. This must end now. We can no longer allow children’s lives to be a game of chance or allow toddlers to face an immigration judge with no one to help them.

Importantly, the provision of attorneys for unaccompanied children also helps improve immigration court efficiency, conserve resources, and increase appearance rates.

KIND urges the Biden Administration and Congress to safeguard due process for vulnerable children and efficiency for the immigration court system by advocating for and appropriating robust funding to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement for legal services for these children as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bill.

The provision of counsel is a win for everyone. KIND greatly appreciates the Biden Administration’s support for the legal assistance that can alter the trajectory of a child’s life and ensure their safety and well-being.


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