Immigrant Youth in the Youth Justice System: What You Need to Know in 2018

Posted February 27, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
What You Need to Know in 2018 About Immigrant Youth in the Youth Justice System

Recent shifts in U.S. pol­i­cy have placed nonci­t­i­zen youth who are involved in the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem at increased risk of arrest, deten­tion and depor­ta­tion. Nonci­t­i­zen par­ents are also fac­ing increased depor­ta­tion risks — a threat that under­mines fam­i­ly sta­bil­i­ty while leav­ing their chil­dren — includ­ing U.S. cit­i­zen and nonci­t­i­zen youth — grap­pling with height­ened anxiety.

To help juve­nile jus­tice pro­fes­sion­als nav­i­gate this evolv­ing land­scape, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion has pub­lished an update to its 2014 prac­tice guide Nonci­t­i­zen Youth in the Juve­nile Jus­tice Sys­tem. Much like its pre­de­ces­sor, the 2018 update includes infor­ma­tion aimed at help­ing juve­nile jus­tice juris­dic­tions and indi­vid­ual employ­ees devel­op poli­cies and pro­ce­dures that align with the core strate­gies of the Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive (JDAI).

Down­load the 2018 Update to Nonci­t­i­zen Youth in the Juve­nile Jus­tice System

Read­ers will learn how fed­er­al immi­gra­tion enforce­ment poli­cies have changed since 2014 and how these devel­op­ments are impact­ing nonci­t­i­zen youth in the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem. Nonci­t­i­zen Youth in the Juve­nile Jus­tice Sys­tem: 2018 Update also deliv­ers revised pol­i­cy rec­om­men­da­tions for pro­fes­sion­als who are work­ing with nonci­t­i­zen youth and with young peo­ple how have nonci­t­i­zen fam­i­ly members.

These rec­om­men­da­tions include:

  • Do not enforce ICE detain­er or hold requests
    Com­pli­ance with detain­ers — a tool used by the U.S. Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE) — is vol­un­tary. Sev­er­al fed­er­al court deci­sions have found key aspects of ICE’s detain­er sys­tem uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and in vio­la­tion of fed­er­al statutes cre­at­ing lia­bil­i­ty for local law enforcement.
  • Do not vio­late state con­fi­den­tial­i­ty laws in shar­ing infor­ma­tion with ICE 
    Many states have con­fi­den­tial­i­ty laws that pro­tect infor­ma­tion about youth in the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem, often with no excep­tion for fed­er­al immi­gra­tion officials.
  • Do help nonci­t­i­zen youth obtain law­ful immi­gra­tion status
    Juve­nile jus­tice offi­cials can help nonci­t­i­zen youth by con­nect­ing them with local legal ser­vices providers for immi­gra­tion legal assis­tance. If a youth is able to gain legal sta­tus, the youth could work law­ful­ly and pur­sue high­er edu­ca­tion and oth­er ser­vices and ben­e­fits, con­tribut­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly to the youth’s suc­cess­ful tran­si­tion into adulthood.
  • Do con­tin­ue to pur­sue JDAI reforms 
    For 25 years, JDAI has aimed to keep young peo­ple from being unnec­es­sar­i­ly sep­a­rat­ed from their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties. This work includes reduc­ing reliance on locked deten­tion, since even a short stay in deten­tion can cause young peo­ple seri­ous harm in areas like edu­ca­tion, employ­ment and men­tal health. Less reliance on deten­tion also keeps nonci­t­i­zen youth out of the depor­ta­tion pipeline.

The 2018 update also encour­ages juris­dic­tions to part­ner with local immi­gra­tion attor­neys and experts to help devel­op poli­cies and pro­to­cols and resolve indi­vid­ual cases.

Ensur­ing a bright future for all chil­dren requires poli­cies that keep fam­i­lies togeth­er and allow them to flour­ish. Chil­dren also need com­mu­ni­ties that sup­port them and sys­tems that pro­tect them,” says Nate Balis, direc­tor of the Foundation’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group. We’re com­mit­ted to the well-being of all chil­dren liv­ing in the Unit­ed States, nonci­t­i­zen youth included.”

Webi­nar on the Report

On March 15, 2018, the Casey Foun­da­tion host­ed a webi­nar to high­light data and rec­om­men­da­tions from the report.

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