AI Justice, along with longtime partner, FIU's Immigrant Children's Justice Legal Clinic, submitted a brief to the Juvenile Court in the Eleventh Circuit on behalf of two immigrant children who had suffered terrible abuse and threats by their father and other family members and whose lives were at risk if returned to their home country of Guatemala. The brief, a response to an Order issued by a Juvenile Court Judge, addressed various discrete legal issues specific to immigrant children eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status seeking protection from the Juvenile Court.
AI Justice’s Children’s program received the inaugural Paul Doyle Children’s Advocacy Award (2nd Runner Up) from the Florida Bar Foundation in a state-wide contest. Program Manager Michelle Abarca accepted the award in a ceremony in Orlando.
In 2013, Cheryl Little was honored with the David Lawrence Champion for Children Award by The Children's Trust of Miami-Dade for her lifetime of achievement and dedication to children.
The Children’s Program team co-authored the article, “The ABC’s of Representing Unaccompanied Children,” for publication in the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA), Immigration Practice Pointers, (2011-12 Edition).
AI Justice successfully advocated for improvement of the treatment of unaccompanied minors in detention, including the 2004 creation of a separate Miami court docket for children’s cases. Prior to this, all children’s cases were heard at the Krome adult detention facility. Children transported there were required to wait outside in the hot sun because they could not be commingled with adult detainees. Outside, these traumatized children were in hearing distance of the gunfire from a nearby shooting range.
AI Justice’s advocacy was an important voice in the 2002 transfer of authority for the care and placement of child detainees from the Immigration and Naturalization Service to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The INS had previously held the dual roles of being in charge of the detention and deportation of these children and of being their caretakers, resulting in abuses that were condemned internationally.
The children’s legal team has presented at numerous conferences regarding unaccompanied immigrant children’s rights and immigration relief options, including national convening of the American Bar Association, National Association of Counsel for Children, and the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association.