Photo: American flags
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday a plan to recruit attorneys and paralegals to provide legal assistance to child immigrants who arrive in the United States unaccompanied.
“We’re taking a historic step to strengthen our justice system and protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.
The initiative is a joint effort of the Department of Justice and the Corporation for National and Community Service, or CNCS, which administers AmeriCorps.
Holder stressed the plight of young migrants facing court proceedings.
The justice AmeriCorps project promises to “empower new generations of aspiring attorneys and paralegals to serve their country and stand on the front lines of this fight,” he said.
“And we bolster both the efficacy and the efficiency of our immigration courts,” the attorney general said.
“Young immigrant children entering the U.S., often under dangerous circumstances, represent some of the most vulnerable individuals who interact with our immigration system,” CNCS Chief Executive Wendy Spencer said.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Latino Evangelical Coalition and National Immigration Forum issued a joint statement hailing the initiative.
“It is vital that these vulnerable children receive help navigating our complex legal system,” Kevin Appleby, director of the Catholic Bishops’ Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs, said. “They have real protection claims which should be heard.”