Annual Meeting

ABA House overwhelmingly adopts new standards for care of unaccompanied immigrant minors

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The ABA’s House of Delegates agreed Tuesday to adopt standards for how the federal government should treat unaccompanied immigrant minors.

On a voice vote with no audible dissent, the House adopted Resolution 119, the Commission on Immigration’s 2018 Standards for the Custody, Placement and Care; Legal Representation; and Adjudication of Unaccompanied Alien Children in the United States. The standards are not binding on the federal government, but are intended as guidance for federal agencies and their contractors. They replace a set of guidelines adopted in 2004.

Mary Meg McCarthy, chair of the commission, said conditions have changed considerably since 2004. In Central America, the source of many unaccompanied immigrant minors, safety for everyone has deteriorated. As a result, there are 10 times as many children and teens coming to our borders as there were 14 years ago, she said. This does not include children forcibly separated from their parents by federal policy, who are classified as unaccompanied, despite the existence of their adult companions.

“Children, no matter where they are from, deserve to be treated as children,” said McCarthy, executive director of the Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center in Chicago. “Through these [2018] standards, we will help ensure that children are treated with respect, dignity and compassion and that their human rights are fully protected.”

There was no opposition, and all the speakers in support of the resolution waived. It passed easily.

Follow along with our full coverage of the 2018 ABA Annual Meeting.

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