Courts Prepare for Unaccompanied Minor Cases

Texas Lawyer recently published an article examining the impact of unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border into Texas on the courts:

"The 'flood' of unaccompanied Central and South American children entering the U.S. last year has only trickled into Texas courts so far, although some experts are watching for a bigger rush further downstream.

Federal courts have jurisdiction over immigration, but state courts play a role in some unaccompanied minor cases. As the so-called surge of unaccompanied children dominated the headlines last summer, David Slayton, administrative director of the Texas Office of Court Administration, said he was afraid that state courts might get hit with thousands of cases at once.

'If that does happen, that will tax the system,' Slayton said, adding, 'At this point, we are seeing them trickle into the system, and we believe if they continue in that fashion, we are probably able to handle it with existing judicial resources.'

But it's possible that many cases haven't made it to court yet, said 312th Family Court Judge David Farr of Houston. Six months after an unaccompanied child is relocated, the relative could file for conservatorship, he said. But Farr said he could imagine the scenario of an uncle who did not expect a nephew to come live with him, and who did not have money for an attorney."

Click here to read the full article.

In July 2014, our Office hosted a CLE to help equip attorneys with information they need to represent these migrant children. That CLE is still available online for those who would like to learn more about the non-profit groups that have taken on these cases, and how to volunteer to represent these children. The CLE includes a message from Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht about the importance of this kind of pro bono work in our profession. 

Click here to learn more and view the entire CLE presentation.