The Immigrant Children’s Protection Project represents and advocates for detained and non-detained immigrant children who face the possibility of deportation to a dangerous homeland. Each year, tens of thousands of children arrive in the United States without a parent or guardian. Denied their childhood, many minors come to escape violent gang recruitment, acute poverty, abusive labor conditions, forced recruitment as child soldiers, forced child marriages, and female genital mutilation.
Unaccompanied minors in immigration proceedings, like all immigrants in this situation, do not have access to court-appointed counsel. More than half of the estimated 10,000 children per year entangled in the U.S. immigration system go through their hearings without legal representation. NIJC works with a strong network of pro bono attorneys to ensure that every child who comes before the Chicago immigration court has access to legal counsel.
NIJC and its local and national partners collaborate to develop strategies that advocate for systemic change, identify gaps in the system, and propose recommendations for reform. NIJC meets frequently with federal government officials to educate them about the necessity of legal counsel for minors, both accompanied and unaccompanied.