Who We Are

Migration and Refugee Services' Legal and Child Advocate Program  launched in November 2014 and is funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Department of Children’s Services (ORR/DCS). The program serves children in immigration proceedings who have been released from federal custody to their families and other caregivers.  Most unaccompanied children are released from custody without having had their immigration hearings and are not appointed government-funded attorneys.

What We Do 

Legal Representation in Immigration Proceedings

In partnership with Catholic Charities of Los Angeles; Houston; Baltimore; DC; Arlington; New Orleans and Catholic Legal Services of Miami, USCCB/MRS provides direct legal representation for children in immigration proceedings.

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., CLINIC, builds the capacity of MRS' network of legal providers through technical assistance, training, and monitoring.

Child Advocacy Services 

Children identified as being especially vulnerable may be referred to the child advocate program. Child advocates ensure the best interest of the child underlies all decision-making within the immigration process and that children and their families are active participants in decisions impacting the care and custody of the child.                                                                                                               

Child Advocates assess children’s short term and long term protection needs and make recommendations for the children’s safety, permanency, and well-being, in the form of Best Interest Recommendations that are submitted to the immigration court. Child Advocates also provide referrals to other needed services in the community as well as ensure that children who return to their home country receive assistance with repatriation and reintegration.  MRS partners with International Social Service- USA branch  to provide international case management for cases requiring an international home study, document tracing, or facilitation of an intercountry family team meeting.  

Find out more details about the program by reading this statement from USCRI and USCCB! For more information and additional resources please visit our resource page.

How You Can Help

If you know a child who has been released from ORR/DCS custody in need of legal representation in Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans, Miami, Washington DC, Virginia, or Baltimore, email us at migratingchildren@usccb.org and we will direct your referral.

Donate Now 

Help our Legal and Child Advocate program by making a tax-deductible contribution.                                                                                                                                             

If you are in New York, Florida, or Washington, DC, make your donation online. Residents of other states should visit the National Catholic Fund for Migration and Refugee Services.