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Help may be available for unaccompanied child immigrants

Immigrants who flee their native countries to live in the United States face many problems when dealing with the complex immigration system in the United States. Children in particular are facing the most difficulties when dealing with US immigration law. Many of these immigrant children flee Central America and Mexico without their families and are forced to handle the immigration issues on their own.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 40,000 unaccompanied young people under 18 were apprehended by authorities during the last fiscal year. Some immigrant groups say that this number is likely to nearly double this year.

Why the drastic increase in migrant minors? Many experts say that these children are trying to get away from gang violence in their home countries. These children are often a target for gang violence and have no other choice but to cross the border into the United States.

Immigrant groups are doing everything in their power to make sure that these children have a fair chance when it comes to navigating the immigration system. These groups are fighting to get Congress to legislate the appointment of an attorney to represent unaccompanied children in removal proceedings and make sure that the best interest of the child is the main focus of any court or quasi-judicial proceeding.

A recent Kids In Need of Defense report found that there were many pros and cons to using a "child-sensitive approach" in the immigration system. While there are numerous improvements that still need to be made, illegal immigrant children in Louisiana can take comfort in knowing that there are groups working to protect their legal interests.

Source: Dallas News, "Help sought for soaring number of children caught in immigration system," Dianne Solis, Feb. 27, 2014

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