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May 7, 2015

13-Year-Old Unaccompanied Migrant Girl Allowed To Stay In U.S., Hopes To Grow Up To Be A Doctor
By Esther Yu-Hsi Lee

An estimated 40 percent of unaccompanied minors are likely eligible for some form of relief from removal. And unaccompanied minors who, like 535 ["one particular case"], have lawyers are much better equipped to navigate the legal court system and stay in the country. Surveying a decade’s worth of court reports, a Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse report “found that whether or not an unaccompanied juvenile had an attorney was the single most important factor influencing the case’s outcome.” As the Vera Institute of Justice explained, many migrant children “meet conditions that would allow them to remain in the country legally,” but “going through immigration proceedings without legal help is daunting.” In 2010, Vera identified 1,604 children, the majority of whom were from Central America, in its Legal Access Project that were potentially eligible for SIJ status. In a snapshot of court cases between September 2013 and June 2014 when the increase in unaccompanied children arrivals began to peak, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse found that about 66 percent of 305 children whose cases were decided and had attorneys, were granted the ability to stay in the country by an immigration court. In the same time period, only 42 percent of 735 children whose cases were also decided, but didn’t have attorneys, were granted the ability to stay in the country.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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