A new investigation from the Lens looks at the case of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central American countries who are facing court proceedings in New Orleans.
Federal immigration statistics gathered by Syracuse University show that most are likely in the New Orleans area. By the end of June, there were about 1,200 pending juvenile immigration cases in the state. All were in New Orleans Immigration Court, located in an office tower downtown.
Loyola law professor Hiroko Kusuda and a group of law students are handling some of the cases pro bono through the Loyola Law Clinic. "They are not undocumented immigrants that are seeking benefits from the United States. They are refugees that should be accorded the assistance that help they deserve under the U.S. refugee law."
Louisiana has two immigration courts, but only the New Orleans court handles cases for people who are not being held in detention centers.
When children show up at the border alone, the federal government places them with relatives and sponsor families. And the New Orleans area is home to a relatively large number of Central Americans.
Around 81 percent of these kids don’t have a lawyer. Just 10 percent of unaccompanied minors without a lawyer are allowed to stay, compared to about half of those with a lawyer.