WASHINGTON, CMC – The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency says it has established specialised “juvenile dockets” in 49 immigration courts across the US for Caribbean and other migrant children and teenagers in immigration proceedings.
ICE principal legal advisor, Kerry E Doyle, said the juvenile docket will help identify and support children and teenagers who may be victims of human trafficking or child exploitation.
The initiative is being undertaken in collaboration with the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) and the US Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) .
ICE said that as a result, specially trained OPLA staff will manage all cases on EOIR’s juvenile dockets, “which will help ensure tailored, consistent, child-centred support for juvenile non-citizens”.
ICE said these case managers will be trained in identifying signs of child exploitation, as well as available avenues for protection.
“The juvenile docket will also maximise opportunities for children and teenagers appearing in immigration courts to access outside legal advice and counsel,” ICE said.
“Juvenile points of contact will be trained to recognise common indicators of these crimes in order to seek engagement by our ICE colleagues to provide protection and support to these children when needed, while ensuring fair adjudication of their cases before the court,” Doyle said, adding “this new initiative is for the well-being of children throughout their immigration proceedings.”
To aid in the consistent implementation of this important national initiative, ICE said OPLA has developed a general framework to handle cases in immigration proceedings on the juvenile dockets.
ICE said the framework will also streamline review of requests for prosecutorial discretion (PD) filed by or on behalf of Caribbean and other juvenile noncitizens; and will collaborate with attorneys, nongovernmental organisations and nonprofit organisations, who represent juvenile noncitizens on discretionary requests, such as joint motions, the timely issuance of Notices to Appear, requests for voluntary departure, and other forms of prosecutorial discretion.
It said the framework will ensure “timely communication” with USCIS and EOIR during the pendency of deportation proceedings.