Since the spring of 2011, LSSP has worked with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to protect the well-being of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) through the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians of UAC (LOPC). When undocumented children are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement without a guardian and placed in ORR shelters during immigration removal or deportation proceedings, the shelters seek a responsible adult to assume care of the child and ensure attendance in immigration court. These children are especially vulnerable to human trafficking and domestic abuse, so ORR works to ensure that all custodians are suitable caregivers. However, custodians may be unprepared to navigate the immigration court system on their own and may require guidance on how to protect the children.
LOPC coordinates with LSSP’s Fingerprint Project, ORR and EOIR to identify custodians of UAC who reside in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee to educate them on their responsibilities in ensuring the children’s attendance at all EOIR immigration court proceedings and protecting the children from mistreatment, exploitation and trafficking. One of 13 LOPC sites in the U.S., Charlotte’s program has a high rate of reaching UAC custodians with a large majority of the children served attending their immigration court hearings.
- Legal orientation presentations for custodians covering:
- The immigration court process
- The importance of attendance at EOIR removal hearings and consequences of failure to appear
- The forms of immigration relief available to children in removal proceedings
- The custodians’ responsibility to protect the children
- Self-help workshops
- Referral to social services
- Assistance with school enrollment
While the LOPC does not give legal advice, we will refer custodians to legal resources for consultations and potential representation.