Every year, thousands of children attempt to escape unspeakable violence, forced labor and desperate poverty by making a hazardous journey to the U.S. They arrive at our borders unaccompanied by a parent or guardian, typically trafficked or smuggled by people who force them to pay off a significant debt.
Once these children are apprehended, they face an adversarial and incomprehensible legal system that treats them the same as adults. They are expected to represent themselves in court and would not receive any assistance were it not for the help of advocacy organizations.
The Young Center is a human rights organization that advocates for these vulnerable immigrant children. The organization’s mission is to improve the immigration system so children in deportation proceedings are recognized as children, with unique rights and protection needs.
In 2016, the Young Center opened an office in Phoenix as part of a nationwide expansion. Arizona is the second largest point of entry (after Texas) for unaccompanied immigrant children. Because Arizona does not have family detention centers, children arriving here are more likely to be separated from their parents. In addition, more than 70 percent of children who enter Arizona are from Guatemala, which often means they speak an indigenous language and do not have a community in the state to receive them.
The Lacey & Larkin Frontera Fund is proud to support the Phoenix Young Center’s efforts to recruit and train advocates for unaccompanied minors, to foster relationships with local NGOs that provide an array of services to these children, and to submit best interests recommendations to immigration judges and other enforcement officials.