Washington, D.C. (February 22, 2010) – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association has formed a first-of-its-kind partnership with Kids in Need of Defense, a nonprofit organization founded by Microsoft Corporation and actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie, to provide pro bono representation of immigrant children who are in the United States without a parent or legal guardian.
Approximately 8,000 unaccompanied children come to the U.S. each year, are placed in U.S. custody, and face removal proceedings. More than half of these children do not have a lawyer.
“NAPABA welcomes this opportunity to help children in great need,” says NAPABA President Joseph J. Centeno. “For a child to come to the United States seeking safety or freedom from fear and to then face a complex immigration system without a lawyer is hard to imagine. NAPABA members have the skills, dedication, and compassion necessary to help these children.”
Children come to the U.S. alone for a variety of reasons. Some are escaping persecution or severe abuse; others have been trafficked or abandoned and are trying to survive. Others come to the U.S. to try to find their parents.
“KIND is extremely excited to be partnering with such a prominent organization with so many talented professionals,” says Wendy Young, Executive Director of KIND. “It is organizations like NAPABA that make a real difference in these children’s lives because regardless of why they come, no child should have to appear in court without representation. Without a lawyer, children with viable claims for U.S. protection are unable to make their cases to the judges and are returned to their countries of origin where their well-being may be in danger.”
KIND matches unaccompanied children in cities across the U.S. with pro bono lawyers, and advocates for changes in law and policy to improve their treatment. NAPABA, which is a membership organization representing individual members and 63 affiliated state and local bar associations, will encourage its members and affiliates to volunteer with KIND and provide representation to unaccompanied children. NAPABA will also use its large network of attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students, and connections in the Asian Pacific American community to ensure that more APA children, and adults in positions to help them, know about KIND and are able access its services.