USD's Trans-Border Institute to Host Conference on Unaccompanied Children

Tomorrow, June 13, 2014, USD’s Trans-Border Institute (TBI) will host a day-long conference on unaccompanied children in the United States. The conference will run from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and will be held in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice rooms A and B.

The number of unaccompanied children arriving in the United States has surged from a long-term average of 5,000 per year to projections as high as 90,000 for 2014. The vast majority are from Mexico and Central America. A majority of these children are fleeing violence in their home countries; many have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents; and most are exploited and abused on their way to the United States. The conditions in their home countries, the perils of transit, and their vulnerability in the United States are well-documented.

And yet, very few unaccompanied immigrant children apply for asylum or other forms of protection under U.S. immigration law. Most are scared, uninformed, and under extreme pressure to get out of holding cells and detention centers as quickly as possible, even if it means relinquishing rights they never knew they had in the first place. Those that do apply for relief have very limited access to counsel or appropriate social services; and the burden of proof and other legal standards are seldom adjusted to account for the fact that they are children.

Conference speakers will explore the larger social, political, and cultural forces behind the present exodus of children from the region and discuss the specific risks that these children are facing right now, and how they might better screened and protected them from abusive homes, traffickers, and other exploitative situations.

Later in the afternoon, speakers will explore the challenges of providing effective legal representation to unaccompanied immigrant children, and developing a response that moves beyond charity. The conference will conclude with a strategy session designed to establish a research and advocacy agenda.

The conference is free and open to the media and to the public. View the complete agenda and register.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.