October 2, 2013
Our work to help unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in the United States has become even more urgent in the last year, as the number of these children arriving in the U.S. and placed in deportation proceedings has increased to unprecedented levels – and keeps rising. In fiscal year 2012, their number doubled from the previous year to nearly 14,000. In fiscal year 2013, their number is expected to be about 23,500.
More and more children are fleeing violence, persecution, abuse, abandonment, and deep deprivation and find themselves struggling to understand a system they know nothing about, in a language they do not speak, and without the assistance of a parent or legal guardian to help protect and guide them. They are scared, confused, and, without an attorney, virtually unable to present their claim for U.S. protection to an immigration judge.
The surge in their numbers means that without our help, many thousands – well more than half – will appear in an adversarial hearing before an immigration judge with a government attorney arguing for their deportation. These children are at risk of being sent home to a situation where they can face grave, even life-threatening, harm.
KIND has been enormously successful in helping the thousands – nearly 5,000 to date – of children referred to us. With the ever-increasing numbers of children in need of our assistance, KIND is rising to the challenge. We now have more than 170 law firm, corporate, and law school partners who have in many cases succeeded in helping their client gain U.S. protection, changing the trajectory of these children’s lives. In KIND’s first four years, our partners donated more than $50 million in pro bono representation, a contribution that is measured in dollars but for the children they helped is priceless.
It’s this support that gives us the confidence to know that we can help the growing numbers of children in need. We will also continue to intensify our outreach, public education, and advocacy efforts toward this end. KIND regularly meets with Administration officials and staff on Capitol Hill to improve law and policy to better protect these children. We have worked continually on comprehensive immigration reform and appropriations to ensure adequate support for unaccompanied children’s services.
We are also pleased to report that in the third year of our Guatemalan Child Return and Reintegration Project, we have helped more than 100 children return safely and reintegrate into their communities, providing them access to basic services that can enable them to support themselves and create a hopeful future in their home countries. We hope to expand the project to help the many more children in Guatemala and the region who need assistance upon their return from the United States.
As part of the KIND family, we thank you for your support and look forward to many more years of partnership and life-changing assistance to thousands more of these uniquely vulnerable children who desperately need our help – now, more than ever before.
Brad Smith Board Co-Chair Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Microsoft
Angelina Jolie Board Co-Chair UNHCR Special Envoy