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Immigrant parents urge U.S. officials to help their children flee Central American violence

June 12, 2014, The Washington Post

Covington & Burling worked pro bono with Kids in Need of Defense, a nonprofit that provides legal assistance for families to petition to receive minors from border detention.

"The greater Washington region, with more than 400,000 residents of Central American origin, is one of several metropolitan areas in the U.S. where the newly arrived minors are most likely to be sent. Social and legal aid agencies said they have helped hundreds of families petition to receive minors from border detention over the past year. 

But the speculation that these minors simply will be set free is unfounded. All of them are subject to deportation, and none are eligible for the administration’s so-called “Dream Act” program, which allows some illegal youths to remain if they have lived in the U.S. for at least five years and can meet a list of other requirements. The newcomers, in contrast, are ordered to appear in immigration court and have no guarantee of being allowed to stay. 

“The fact that they arrive in the U.S. and are released doesn’t give them any legal status at all,” said Wendy Young, a lawyer in the District for Kids in Need of Defense, a nonprofit that provides free legal help for such minors. Some are eligible for special visas or legal protection, such as victims of abuse or trafficking, but Young said at least 60 percent do not qualify and eventually are ordered to be deported." 

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