Contributed by Kim Tremblay, Associate Attorney
Recently, the media has been relaying stories about the surge of children appearing at our borders; indeed, more than 50,000 minors have entered the United States since October. They are fleeing violence and poverty. They are mostly citizens of in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Many of them are deemed “Unaccompanied Minor Children” (“UAC”), individuals under 18 who lack status in the United States, who are without parents or legal guardians in the United States or without parents or guardians in the United States who can provide them with care and legal custody.
Although the state of Colorado has not seen a significant number of these children yet, there are existing systems in place to process UAC through the immigration courts and to help them with their various needs, as there are a number of UAC who arrive in Colorado every year. In addition, the legal community, government agencies, and local municipalities are preparing for the possible arrival of more UAC in Colorado.
For example, some Colorado attorneys have already spent time near the border representing UAC before the immigration courts or participating in presentations and individuals screenings to ensure that UAC are aware of their rights and to determine there is any relief available to them. Other attorneys are being trained to do the same in Colorado.
Moreover, the immigration court in Denver already has a juvenile docket set up to handle the deportation cases of minors.
In addition, the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network (“RMIAN”), a non-profit organization near Denver, already runs a program to represent immigrant children. RMIAN engages in direct representation, but also attempts to match attorneys with children who need representation.
Finally, cities and charitable organizations are gearing up to provide shelter, food, clothing, and even foster care for any UAC who may come our way.
Despite these preparations, it is unknown whether UAC will be sent to Colorado in great numbers. If they are, hopefully these efforts will be enough to support them adequately and to process their cases in a fair and timely manner.
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