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Contact: Michael Avitzur
Director of Government Relations

BBA Endorses Resolution on Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

The 34-member Council of the Boston Bar Association voted unanimously to endorse ABA Resolution 301, which supports protections for unaccompanied immigrant minors, particularly those meriting Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ) as a result of being abused, abandoned, or neglected.

The Resolution supports the preservation and development of ‎policies that protect due process and other safeguards for immigrant and asylum-seeking children, especially those who have entered the United States without a parent or legal guardian. It further calls on Congress and the Administration to:

• Ensure that children held by Customs and Border Protection are not subject to expedited removal or any other truncated process;
• Increase the annual number of SIJ visas allotted to qualified applicants; and
• Prohibit status from being revoked or rescinded unless there has been an affirmative finding of fraud or misrepresentation

Finally, the resolution urges federal, state, local and territorial governments to expand efforts to provide legal information and legal representation for unaccompanied immigrant and asylum-seeking children in removal proceedings.

“It is important to lend our voice to this resolution and encourage protection of unaccompanied minors,” said BBA President Carol Starkey. “These children are among our most vulnerable people. It is not unreasonable to say that preserving their due process rights and expanding access to legal representation could, quite literally, save their lives.”

The BBA has taken prior positions supporting related immigration issues in Massachusetts. In July 2014, the Council endorsed a bill to clarify that the state’s Probate and Family Court jurisdiction extends to cases of immigrant youths between the ages of 18 and 21 who might otherwise be eligible for SIJ status. And in 2015, a BBA amicus brief in Recinos v. Escobar successfully argued that the Probate and Family Court already has equity jurisdiction over youths aged 18 to 21 who need the court to make the findings requisite for SIJ status.

The Boston Bar Association traces its origins to meetings convened by John Adams, who provided pro bono representation to the British soldiers prosecuted for the Boston Massacre and went on to become the nation’s second president. Its mission is to advance the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession, facilitate access to justice, serve the community at large and promote diversity and inclusion.