Federal Policy

Resources on this page highlight the most salient federal laws and policies that impact the experiences of immigrant families and children as well as the most common immigration relief options for these children and families.

The Effect of Hostile Immigration Policies on Children’s Mental Health

By | Child Well-Being, Deportation, Detention, Family Separation, Federal Policy, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Enforcement, Law & Policy, Law/Policy Highlight, Legal/Law

The Effect of Hostile Immigration Policies on Children’s Mental Health

The Children’s Partnership (March 2017)

Psychological harm and behavioral consequences from fear and stress can occur in children of immigrant families even if parents are not deported or detained.

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Empty Benches: Underfunding of Immigration Courts Undermines Justice

By | Federal Policy, Immigration Enforcement, Law & Policy, Law/Policy Highlight, Legal/Law

Empty Benches: Underfunding of Immigration Courts Undermines Justice

American Immigration Council (June 17, 2016)

The shortage of immigration judges is one of the major problems affecting the U.S. immigration system. Over the past decade, Congress has increased immigration enforcement funding exponentially, yet has not provided the immigration courts with the funding to respond, creating a major backlog that threatens the integrity of the immigration justice system.

See the Report

Forgotten Children of Immigration and Family Law: How the Absence of Legal Aid Affects Children in the United States

By | Child Well-Being, Federal Policy, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Enforcement, Immigration Relief, Law & Policy, Law/Policy Highlight, Legal/Law, Unaccompanied Minors

Forgotten Children of Immigration and Family Law: How the Absence of Legal Aid Affects Children in the United States

Mary O’Neill, Parisa Bagheri, and Alexis Sarnicola, Family Court Review (Oct 17, 2015)

Both unaccompanied alien children and citizen children whose parents are undocumented suffer without legal representation. This article examines their plight without legal advocacy. (Link provides abstract only without institutional or paid access.)

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A Guide to Children Arriving at the Border: Laws, Policies, and Responses

By | Deportation, Detention, Federal Policy, ICE, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Enforcement, Immigration Relief, Law & Policy, Legal Professionals, Legal/Law, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), Unaccompanied Minors

A Guide to Children Arriving at the Border: Laws, Policies, and Responses

American Immigration Council (June 2015)

This guide provides information about the tens of thousands of children who have fled their homes in Central America and arrived at our southern border. It seeks to explain the basics about who these children are, what happens to them when they arrive in the U.S., laws in place to help them, and proposed legislation to help these children.

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Special Provisions for Immigrant Youth: A Model State Statute

By | Federal Policy, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Relief, Law & Policy, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS)

Special Provisions for Immigrant Youth: A Model State Statute

American Friends Service Committee, Fordham Law School, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, and Rutgers University School of Law (February 2015)

This resource proposes model statutory language for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) legislation, with the aim of promoting both uniformity across jurisdictions and the right of all SIJS-eligible immigrant children to access their state court systems.

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In-Country Refugee/Parole Processing for Minors in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala (Central American Minors – CAM)

By | Federal Policy, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Relief, Law & Policy, Unaccompanied Minors

In-Country Refugee/Parole Processing for Minors in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala (Central American Minors – CAM)

Office of Refugee Resettlement (January 30, 2015)

Provides information about the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program which is implemented by the Department of State.

Read about Program

A Guide to the Immigration Accountability Executive Action

By | Federal Policy, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Enforcement, Immigration Relief, Law & Policy

A Guide to the Immigration Accountability Executive Action

American Immigration Council (November 30, 2014)

This guide provides an analysis of President Obama’s plan for immigration reform, including an overview of the Deferred Action for Parents of American and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program and information on the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Read Overview and Download Guide

States and Status: A Study of Geographical Disparities for Immigrant Youth

By | Federal Policy, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Enforcement, Immigration Relief, Law & Policy, Legal/Law, Research, Resources, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), State Policies, Unaccompanied Minors, Unaccompanied Minors Research

States and Status: A Study of Geographical Disparities for Immigrant Youth

Columbia Human Rights Law Review, 46(266) (November 2014)

Written by Laila Hlass, this article discusses patterns in the number of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status applicants across states and over time.

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The ABCs of Representing Unaccompanied Children in Removal Proceedings

By | Deportation, Family Separation, Federal Policy, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Relief, Law & Policy, Legal Professionals, Legal/Law, Practice, Resources, Social Work, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), Unaccompanied Minors

The ABCs of Representing Unaccompanied Children in Removal Proceedings

American Bar Association Commission on Immigration (October 2014)

These materials, from an October 2014 training, cover information on a range of topics related to representing unaccompanied immigrant children, including best practices for working with unaccompanied children, information on immigration law and removal proceedings, ethical considerations in representing unaccompanied minors, Special Immigration Juvenile Status, U and T Visas, and asylum law and initial jurisdiction issues.

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Applying the ICE Parental Interests Directive to Child Welfare Cases

By | Deportation, Detention, Family Separation, Federal Policy, ICE, Immigration Enforcement, Kinship Care, Law & Policy, Legal Professionals, Legal/Law, Parental Interests Directive, Practice, Resources, Social Work, Social Workers

Applying the ICE Parental Interests Directive to Child Welfare Cases

Immigrant Legal Resource Center (August 26, 2014)

This resource summarizes the key provisions of the Directive and provides tips to those working within the dependency system on how to best ensure an immigrant parent can meaningfully participate in the dependency proceedings.

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Finding a Path for Children in United States Immigration Law

By | Child Well-Being, Deportation, Federal Policy, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Relief, Law & Policy, Legal/Law

Finding a Path for Children in United States Immigration Law

Ryan Russell, Law School Student Scholarship, Paper 561 (2014)

The author advocates for incorporating the best interest of the child standard into deportation proceedings initiated against an undocumented immigrant parent.

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What Is the Right Policy Toward Unaccompanied Children at U.S. Borders?

By | Federal Policy, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Relief, Law & Policy, Unaccompanied Minors

What Is the Right Policy Toward Unaccompanied Children at U.S. Borders?

Migration Policy Institute (June 2014)

President Obama assigned responsibility for meeting the needs of the children taken into federal custody to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), describing the inflow as an “urgent humanitarian issue.” Governmental capacity to care for the caseload is overwhelmed as fast as it can be installed. Everyone knows that the current trend is unsustainable: a broader policy response must quickly follow on the humanitarian one.

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Fact Sheet: Parental Interests Directive

By | Deportation, Detention, Family Separation, Federal Policy, ICE, Immigration Enforcement, Law & Policy, Parental Interests Directive

Fact Sheet: Parental Interests Directive

First Focus (September 3, 2013)

On August 23, 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued a directive on Facilitating Parental Interests in the Course of Immigration Enforcement Activities, or the Parental Interest Directive. The Directive is a response to the large and growing number of U.S. citizen children with immigrant parents or guardians who have been detained or deported, and is meant to ensure that detained and removed parents and guardians can maintain a relationship with their children and make decisions in their best interest. Written by Wendy Cervantes, Vice President, Immigration and Child Rights Policy, First Focus.

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ICE’s Parental Interests Directive: Helping Families Caught Between the Immigration and Child Welfare Systems

By | Deportation, Detention, Family Separation, Federal Policy, ICE, Immigration Enforcement, Law & Policy, Parental Interests Directive

ICE’s Parental Interests Directive: Helping Families Caught Between the Immigration and Child Welfare Systems

Women’s Refugee Commission (August 26, 2013)

Written by Emily Butera, Senior Program Officer, this blog discusses a long awaited directive on “Facilitating Parental Interests in the Course of Civil Immigration Enforcement Activities” released by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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Facilitating Parental Interests in the Course of Civil Immigration Enforcement Activities

By | Deportation, Detention, Family Separation, Federal Policy, ICE, Immigration Enforcement, Law & Policy, Legal/Law, Parental Interests Directive, Resources

Facilitating Parental Interests in the Course of Civil Immigration Enforcement Activities

U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (August 2013)

Full text of the Parental Interest Directive issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in August 2013.

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Children’s Legal Rights Journal: Special Issue on Immigrant Children and Families

By | Child Maltreatment, Child Well-Being, Deportation, Detention, Family Separation, Federal Policy, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Enforcement, Immigration Relief, Law & Policy, Legal/Law, Resources, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), State Policies, State Policy, Unaccompanied Minors

Children’s Legal Rights Journal: Special Issue on Immigrant Children and Families

Civitas Child Law Center, Loyola University Chicago & the ABA Center on Children and the Law (Spring 2013)

This special issue includes articles that address the intersection between the legal and child welfare systems.

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Principles for Children in Immigration Reform Fact Sheet

By | Child Well-Being, Federal Policy, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Enforcement, Immigration Relief, Law & Policy, Spanish Resources, Unaccompanied Minors

Principles for Children in Immigration Reform Fact Sheet

First Focus and the Women’s Refugee Commission (February 5, 2013)

First Focus and the Women’s Refugee Commission led the effort to develop these principles for children in immigration reform to ensure that efforts at immigration reform consider the best interests of children and their families.

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Violence Against Women Act of 2013

By | Federal Policy, Immigration Relief, Law & Policy, Legal/Law, Safety

Violence Against Women Act of 2013

U.S. Congress (January 3, 2013)

Originally signed in 1994, this bill provides protection and immigration relief options for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. The 2013 VAWA strengthens the legislation with increased protections for Native American women and other victims previously left vulnerable by gaps in the law.

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Children in Harm’s Way: Criminal Justice, Immigration Enforcement, and Child Welfare

By | Child Well-Being, Deportation, Detention, Family Separation, Federal Policy, ICE, Immigrant Youth, Immigration Enforcement, Law & Policy, Trauma

Children in Harm’s Way: Criminal Justice, Immigration Enforcement, and Child Welfare

Sentencing Project, First Focus and Migration and Child Welfare National Network (January, 2013)

Children in Harm’s Way is a compilation of articles written by leading scholars, policy analysts, legal experts, and practitioners that explores how children are harmed when the criminal justice, immigration enforcement, and child welfare systems converge.

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