LatinaLista — The issue of unaccompanied minors — those children who cross the border, either on their own or with a coyote or another family member not their parent but who get caught by Border Patrol and are run through the legal system with the intent of deporting them â€” has been a pet issue of Latina Lista since we first heard about the abuses by our government towards the deportation of these children.
Most of these children come here in search of their parents. Yet, even after being reunited with them, because they were caught by authorities before finding their parents, they are subjected to the immigration process which means they must go before a judge. It's reported that approximately 8,000 children are subjected to immigration proceedings and separated from their parents. Half of these children do not have money for legal counsel and so suffer the consequences.
Those children who do have legal counsel usually fare better.
In a surprising partnership, the computer software giant Microsoft has teamed with actress Angelina Jolie to form a new national children's advocacy initiative called Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).
The mission is to provide pro bono legal counsel to unaccompanied immigrant children in the U.S. so that they receive fair and compassionate treatment in the immigration system. More than 25 law firms and corporate law departments have joined the initiative.
Right now, KIND is in nine cities: Los Angeles, Seattle, Houston, Boston, New York, Newark, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Since it is a volunteer-based organization, they have a need for volunteers to help with clerical duties, serve as translators and, of course, legal help.
The organization's immediate goal is to work closely with private law firms, corporate legal departments and their attorneys to recruit, train, and mentor attorneys to represent children in those cities where there is a KIND office.
The ultimate goal is that by 2010, KIND will represent more than 2,100 children annually: every unaccompanied child where KIND is located who would not otherwise have an attorney.
"These children often have nothing; no money, no support and no family, yet they come to America seeking its promises of a better life," states Angelina Jolie. "But many end up becoming lost, traumatized, and ultimately forgotten. KIND provides each of them with the ability to have their legal rights protected and their voices heard."
They are the smallest victims with the most to lose and for too long have been harshly ignored. The time for compassion and moral duty is long overdue.
Latina Lista applauds and endorses KIND's mission.