A major focus of ACKC is representing Unaccompanied children (UCs). UCs entering Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody have significantly increased each year since the founding of UC Program in 2003. In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) referred 40,810 UCs to ORR custody, and in 2019, this number increased to 69,488 UCs. In 2019, around 72% of UCs were over fourteen years old and more than 71% were boys. These children are fleeing their home countries of Guatemala (45%); El Salvador (18%); Honduras (30%) and many others (7%). In most cases, these children travel to the United States to escape ongoing abuse, trafficking, abandonment, and gang violence.
According to data from September 2019, more than 450,000 juveniles were facing deportation in immigration courts across the United States. 35% of these juveniles were facing this deportation in court alone without representation.
Sadly, all asylum seekers face enormous obstacles to obtaining legal relief. In 2019 alone, according to data from TRAC, the Kansas City Immigration Court ruled 719 asylum decisions granting relief to only 87 asylum seekers. This equates to a denial rate of 88% for Kansas City while the United States as a whole has a denial rate of 69%.
Not only are these individuals navigating a complex legal system, the odds of relief are stacked against them because these juveniles have no right to appointed counsel. UCs struggle to find counsel due to lack of funds to hire an attorney and the limited attorneys able to provide pro bono services. The opportunity for these asylum seekers to have legal representation matters immensely to their case. According to TRAC data from 2017, the chances of being granted asylum are five times higher when represented by an attorney.
At the Asylum Clinic KC, we strive to assist with this vast need in our community. We firmly believe all people deserve the opportunity to seek humanitarian relief and should not be forced to go at this alone.
IMMIGRANTS ARE INTEGRAL TO OUR MISSOURI & KANSAS COMMUNITY:
See the graphics below from the American Immigration Council displaying the immigrant population in Missouri and Kansas. Immigrants matter to our community serving active roles in our economy and labor force. At Asylum Clinic KC, we strive to support and protect these vital individuals.