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Jesuit Refugee Service, Jesuit law schools partner to address challenges faced by child migrants
March 14, 2015

Jesuit Refugee Service, Jesuit law schools partner to address challenges faced by child migrants
A youngster looks out the door of a holding cell at the Brownsville, Texas, port of entry. Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and Jesuit Law Schools are working together to draw attention to the plight of Central American child migrants. (Eduardo Perez — Customs and Border Protection)
This work by JRS/USA and the Jesuit law schools has revealed a larger need to raise awareness about the legal, social and cultural challenges that migrants seeking protection are confronting upon their arrival.
(Washington, D.C.) March 14, 2015 — Beginning in October 2011, the U.S. Government recorded a dramatic increase in the number of unaccompanied and separated children arriving in the United States from Central America. The total number of apprehensions of unaccompanied children from Central America by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) rose from 3,933 in FY2011 to 51,705 in FY2014.1 

At the same time, there has also been a significant increase in the number of families, almost exclusively mothers with young children, arriving at the U.S. southern border. The number of individuals arriving in family units apprehended by CBP rose from 14,855 persons in FY2013 to 68,445 in FY2014.

According to a March 2014 UNHCR report, Children on the Run, which documents the circumstances compelling Central American children to seek refuge in the United States, a large proportion cite violence as the pivotal factor that led to their flight. Sixty-six percent of Salvadorans named violence by organized armed criminals as a primary motivation to leave. Similarly, 44 percent of Hondurans were either threatened with or were victims of violence by organized criminal networks. 

Both Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and U.S.-based Jesuit law schools have been engaged in efforts to respond to the surge in migrants from Central America seeking protection, and are committed to collaboratively expanding efforts to address this critical issue. JRS/USA has been working to draw attention to the plight of minors and their families escaping violence and has been advocating on their behalf. Jesuit law schools across the U.S. have been providing a variety of services to this community through research, training and representation, serving hundreds of people. 

This work by JRS/USA and the Jesuit law schools has revealed a larger need to raise awareness about the legal, social and cultural challenges that migrants seeking protection are confronting upon their arrival. Do migrants have access to timely and appropriate screening? Are they being offered a fair process affording them the opportunity to fully articulate their claims for protection? Is the current system able to preserve the safety, dignity and well-being of migrants as they seek relief? These are just some of the questions that remain unanswered as the U.S. continues to develop a response to this ongoing crisis. 

Through this partnership, JRS/USA and Jesuit law schools will work together to undertake research based on first-hand experiences of legal practitioners at participating Jesuit law schools. Based on this research, a policy paper will be developed that identifies the need for improvement in the legal environment around, and the legal procedures currently available for, migrants seeking protection in the United States. This policy paper will then become the basis for an advocacy campaign to disseminate its findings and promote its recommendations. 

For further information regarding this partnership, please email Giulia McPherson, JRS/USA Assistant Director for Policy, or call 202-629-5942. 

Participating law schools are: Boston College, Creighton University, Fordham University, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University, Loyola University Chicago, Loyola University Los Angeles, Loyola University New Orleans, Saint Louis University (in close collaboration with the Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry housed at Saint Louis University), Santa Clara University, Seattle University, University of Detroit Mercy, and University of San Francisco. 

1. U.S. Customs & Border Protection - http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/southwest-border-unaccompanied-childrenComplete figures are - FY2011: 3,933; FY2012: 10,146; FY2013: 20,805; FY2014: 51,705.

Migration to and Asylum in the United States
Press Contact Information
Mr Christian Fuchs
christian.fuchs@jrs.net
202-629-5946