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Representing Unaccompanied Children in California: Legal Updates, Practice Considerations & Strategies for Pursuing Relief

Speaker(s): Ana Moraga Archila, Cecilia Candia, Christine Lin, Cindy C. Liou, Erikson Albrecht, Helen Lawrence, Jenny Horne, Katie Annand, Kristen M. Jackson, Lucero Chávez, Lynette M. Parker, Marion ("Mickey") Donovan-Kaloust, Milli E. Atkinson, Rachel Prandini, Sara Van Hofwegen
Recorded on: Oct. 30, 2018
PLI Program #: 256433

Ana Moraga Archila is a Senior Attorney at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) where she supervises the Bay Area team and represents unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings. Earlier this year Ana had the opportunity to supervise KIND Seattle’s detained team. Ana’s interest in the law was awakened through her experience as co-founder of the organization MuJER- Mujeres por la Justicia, Educación y el Reconocimiento (Women for Justice, Education and Awareness). Ana served as MuJER’s Executive Director. She developed spaces of personal and political empowerment with Central American women sex workers and advocated for policies to end violence against women in Guatemala.

Ana’s work with the immigrant community is sustained by a combination of love and resistance practices, including her involvement in the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira. Ana received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, is a member of the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative and the California State Bar.

Christine Lin is Director of Training and Technical Assistance at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) at UC Hastings College of the Law. She received the Legal Aid Association of California’s 2017 Award of Merit for Legal Services Attorney. Previously, she co-taught and supervised the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic at UC Hastings. Before joining CGRS, Christine served as the Legal Director of Hong Kong Refugee Advice Centre and co-taught refugee legal assistance clinics at the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Prior to her time in Hong Kong, she represented clients at an immigration law firm in San Francisco. Through the Attorney General’s Honors Program, Christine began her legal career as a Judicial Law Clerk/Attorney Advisor with the U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review, at the Los Angeles Immigration Court. Christine holds a J.D. from American University, Master of International Affairs from Columbia University, and bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College.

Erikson Albrecht has made a career of pursuing justice for others. He joined Bet Tzedek in 2006 as the Kinship Attorney to addresses the needs of children whose parents are unable or unwilling to care for them. 

The project provides caregivers with legal advice and representation in order to formalize the child-rearing they provide and address the specific obstacles they face as caregivers. Without legal assistance, caregivers often face difficulty authorizing medical care, are unable to adequately advocate for the child, and lack authority to protect the child from abusive or neglectful parents. Fundamentally, Erikson’s work focused on ensuring that families may continue to provide safe, stable and loving homes for the children they care for.  In order to reach such families, he conducted presentations throughout Sounther California to provide education on the benefits of legal guardianships and tips for identifying families who may need assistance. Providing legal assistance to relative caregivers encompasses many areas including: Probate Legal Guardianships, Individualized Education Plans for children with special educational needs, subsidized housing issues, and Special Immigration Juvenile Status (SIJS) for undocumented minors who have suffered abuse, abandonment or neglect.

To help meet the needs of unaccompanied minors, Erikson developed Bet Tzedek’s Immigrant Child Advocacy Project, a model to maximize pro bono engagement by offering detailed training, guidance, and intensive support on legal guardianship and SIJS. This effort utilizes private firms, big and small, by matching their interest in giving back to the community with the necessary expertise to make a meaningful difference in the lives of undocumented youth. Erikson expanded his focus to include training and mentoring attorneys at legal aid agencies and pro bono attorneys throughout California. To that end, Erikson hosts a weekly call-in hour for California attorneys regarding SIJS matters in Probate Court.

In 2017, Erikson became Directing Attorney at Bet Tzedek, supervising advocates in a host of Bet Tzedek programs, including: conservatorship, guardianship, unaccompanied minor removal defense, In-Home Supportive Services, and a Transgender Medical Legal Partnership. Prior to joining Bet Tzedek, Erikson was a criminal defense attorney and Deputy Public Defender in Santa Cruz County. During college and law school, he worked with youth in an impoverished community on the South Side of Chicago. He received his A.B. in Public Policy from the University of Chicago and his J.D. from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Katie Annand is the Managing Attorney of the San Francisco and Fresno offices of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).  KIND represents unaccompanied children and youth in removal proceedings through direct representation and pro bono mentorship.  Katie leads trainings for pro bono attorneys, partner organizations, and the community on representing unaccompanied children, incorporating a trauma informed lens and cultural responsiveness.  Katie joined KIND in February 2016 after running a successful solo practice specializing in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), a form of legal relief for undocumented children abused, abandoned or neglected.  Katie also worked as a volunteer and staff attorney with the Immigration Center for Women and Children, where she represented clients seeking SIJS and U visas, and as an associate with Reed Smith, LLP in the commercial litigation and financial services groups.  Katie is a graduate of University of California, Hastings College of Law, and of Wesleyan University, where she majored in anthropology and international relations.  Katie is licensed to practice in the state of California, and she is fluent in Spanish.

Kristen Jackson is a senior staff attorney in Public Counsel’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. She has expertise in asylum and children’s immigration issues, including special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS) and the intersection of immigration and juvenile justice. Kristen has litigated SIJS issues in state and federal court and is co-counsel in federal litigation to protect children’s right to seek asylum before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. She has authored numerous publications, including a practice advisory on suppression and termination strategies for children, and she taught the asylum clinic at UCLA School of Law for over a decade. Kristen clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit after receiving her J.D. from Yale Law School.

Rachel Prandini is the ILRC’s immigrant youth project attorney based in San Francisco. Rachel focuses on immigrant youth issues, including unaccompanied minors and immigrant youth in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Rachel provides technical assistance and trainings to immigration and state court attorneys, social workers, and judges. She works on statewide and national policy that affects the rights of immigrant youth and is frequently consulted for her expertise in Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. Rachel co-authored the ILRC’s publication Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and Other Immigration Options for Children and Youth.

Prior to joining the ILRC, Rachel represented detained and released unaccompanied minors in removal defense and led a project focusing on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status at Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project in Los Angeles. While at Esperanza, Rachel also performed "Know Your Rights" work in southern California immigration detention centers for minors. Previously, Rachel worked as an associate at Paul Hastings, LLP and volunteered as a Child Advocate for unaccompanied minors.

Rachel earned her law degree from the University of California at Davis, where she was a member of the Immigration Law Clinic and was fortunate to work on complex deportation defense cases and detention issues. She received her undergraduate degree from Westmont College, where she double-majored in philosophy and political science. Rachel is admitted to the bar in California. She is conversant in Spanish.

Cecilia Candia is a Senior Immigration Attorney at Central American Resource Center of Northern California (CARECEN SF) where she represents children and families in removal proceedings before the San Francisco Immigration Court. Prior to CARECEN SF, Cecilia was the Associate Legal Director at Legal Services for Children, where she worked with children in custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the Immigration Program Coordinator and Immigration Attorney at La Raza Centro Legal in San Francisco. She served as American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) NorCal co-liaison to the San Francisco Asylum Office from 2019 to 2021. Cecilia received her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and is a member of the San Francisco Immigrant Legal Defense Collaborative and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild.

Cindy C. Liou, Esq. is the State Policy Director at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a national non-profit working to provide legal counsel to unaccompanied refugee and immigrant children in the United States. Prior to this role, she served as the Deputy Director of Legal Services at KIND. Previously, she was the Director of the Human Trafficking Project at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, where she also co-counseled several civil litigation cases on behalf of human trafficking survivors, and represented survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and elder abuse. She continues to provide consulting and training on topics ranging from human trafficking, domestic violence lethality, to best practices on how to collaborate in cross-disciplinary teams to support survivors of violence. She is formerly the Co-Chair of the Policy Committee of the Freedom Network to Empower Trafficked and Enslaved Persons (USA), a network of over 40 individual and member agencies representing trafficking survivors, and the winner of their 2018 Paul and Sheila Wellstone Award. She is also the recipient of the 2013 San Francisco Collaborative Against Human Trafficking Modern Day Abolitionist Award for Policy and Advocacy. Cindy is the co-author of several articles, and has contributed to the manuals of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center's second edition of Representing Survivors of Human Trafficking, first edition of T Visas: A Critical Immigration Option for Survivors of Human Trafficking, and the fifth edition of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and Other Immigration Options for Children & Youth. She previously handled a variety of pro bono cases at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC, ranging from asylum to police misconduct cases. Cindy is a graduate from Stanford Law School and the University of Washington.

Helen has an Oakland-based immigration law practice dedicated to providing direct representation and legal services to individuals before immigration courts and agencies. Her practice focuses on the representation of children, youth and young adults. Helen graduated from Harvard Law School in 2009. After law school, she completed a fellowship at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center focusing on the intersection of immigrant youth, juvenile justice and gangs. Prior to law school, she worked in Brazil for several non-profits on a variety of human rights issues. While in law school, she was actively involved in Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic and Harvard’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic, including human rights investigations in El Salvador and Brazil. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles where she majored in international development studies and minored in Spanish. She serves on the boards of Community and Youth Outreach the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Northern California Chapter (AILA Norcal), as treasurer. She is also an EOIR co-liaison for AILA Norcal. She is inspired by immigrants’ contributions, strength and resilience.

Jenny Horne, a graduate of Stanford Law School, has been a staff attorney at Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County since 1994. She founded the Teen Parents’ Project which provides free legal advice and representation to low income San Mateo County teen-aged parents in domestic violence, family law, public benefits, education, guardianship, emancipation, and immigration. Over the past fifteen years, she has spent an increasing amount of time providing immigration assistance including help with U VISAs, SIJS, VAWA, and DACA to teen parents, their families, and other youth who cannot live with one or both of their parents due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Jenny was inducted into the San Mateo County Women’s Hall of Fame; received the Silver Award from the Peninsula Partnership Council’s first biannual Children’s Report Initiative in 2002; and in 1999, received a Commendation from the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors and the San Mateo County Perinatal Council for services provided to San Mateo County school-age parents.

Lucero Chávez is a Senior Staff Attorney at Public Counsel where she is part of the Immigrant Rights Project (IRP). Ms. Chávez represents unaccompanied children in immigration, asylum, family, delinquency, dependency, and probate proceedings. Ms. Chávez is part of the Unaccompanied Children’s team within IRP at Public Counsel and in addition to providing direct representation to clients, works with Pro Bono attorneys in Southern California, offering technical assistance and trainings as needed. Ms. Chávez has conducted trainings on Motions to Terminate and Suppress, Responding to Requests for Evidence, and Preparing and Filing Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Petition with state courts and before USCIS.

Prior to joining Public Counsel, Ms. Chávez was an Immigrants Rights attorney at the ACLU of Southern California where she focused on impact litigation around immigration enforcement. During her time at the ACLU of Southern California, Ms. Chávez was involved in a class action on behalf of nine Mexican nationals and three immigrant advocacy organizations who challenged deceptive tactics used by Border Patrol agents and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to convince the plaintiffs to sign their own expulsion orders. Ms. Chávez also conducted Train the Trainers workshops with community groups around Immigration Enforcement and Local Law Enforcement Agencies.

Currently, Ms. Chávez is also an Adjunct Professor at Western State College of law where she teaches Administrative Law.

Ms. Chávez received her J.D. from UC Berkeley Law School in 2010 and obtained a B.A. in American Literature & Culture and Chicana/o Studies from UCLA in 2007. She is the former Co-Chair of the Berkeley Law Raza Law Students Association, former President of the UC Student Association, worked on briefing for the Inter American Court with the Berkeley Law International Human Rights Clinic, and is a long time volunteer with the YMCA Model Legislature and Court Youth and Government program. Ms. Chávez is also an alumni of the Rockwood Leadership Institute with the Fellowship for a New California and of the Shriver Racial Justice Institute.

Lynette M. Parker is Clinical Faculty (Immigration Practice Area) of the Alexander Community Law Center, Santa Clara University School of Law. She has been teaching and supervising law students handling immigration cases since March 2000.

She provides technical support to attorneys on political asylum, U visa and T Visa cases.

She has co-authored “Representing Survivors of Human Trafficking: A Promising Practices Handbook,” 1st edition published in 2010 and 2nd edition in 2014 by Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), and has authored a Georgetown Immigration Law Journal article titled “Increasing Law Students Effectiveness When Representing Traumatized Clients: A Case Study of the Katharine & George Alexander Community Law Center.”

Ms. Parker has been a member of the South Bay Coalition to End Human Trafficking since 2005, and a commission member of the Santa Clara County Human Trafficking Commission since 2014.

She was awarded the FBI’s Community Leadership Award in 2014 for her working in serving survivors of human trafficking, and the 2018 Unsung Heroes Award from the Santa Clara County Bar Association’s Diversity Committee.

Marion (“Mickey”) Donovan-Kaloust is a current directing attorney and former Skadden Fellow and staff attorney in the Children’s Representation Project (CRP). She manages Immigrant Defenders Law Center’s Riverside Satellite Office and oversees the organization’s provision of representation to detained unaccompanied children and refugee minors. She graduated from UCLA School of Law with a specialization in public interest law and policy. She earned her B.A. from Goucher College in Maryland. Prior to entering law school, she was a public high school teacher in Los Angeles, and she also worked with Kids in Need of Defense and Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project in Los Angeles. 

Milli Atkinson is a Supervising Attorney with the Immigration Center for Women and Children (ICWC) in San Francisco. ICWC is a non-profit organization that focuses on providing legal services to victims of trauma and violence. As part of her role at ICWC, Milli supervises ICWC’s Legal Orientation Program for Custodians, which provides support for unaccompanied minors after reunification with family members in Northern California. Milli has been participating in the SFILDC Rapid Response program since it began in 2017. Prior to her time at ICWC, Milli worked in private practice where she represented detained individuals in immigration court, including at bond hearings. She transitioned to non-profit work in 2013 as the Lead Attorney for Centro de Ayuda Legal para Inmigrantes (CALI) in Santa Clara, CA. While at CALI, Milli supervised the work of the legal staff and managed her own diverse caseload.

Sara Van Hofwegen, Esq., is a supervising staff attorney in the Immigrant’s Rights Project at Public Counsel. Sara has represented more than 250 survivors of human trafficking and is an expert on human trafficking and the legal remedies available to immigrant survivors, including T Visa petitions. At Public Counsel, Sara defends unaccompanied immigrant youth, many of whom are survivors of human trafficking, from removal from the United States, representing them in removal proceedings, state court, and before the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Prior to joining Public Counsel, Sara was the Managing Attorney at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking, where she worked collaboratively with law enforcement and community partners and provided holistic legal services to survivors of human trafficking, including criminal victim-witness, civil, and immigration advocacy. Sara also regularly provides training and technical assistance on human trafficking and immigration issues in California and throughout the country. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law.