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The List - One year, hundreds of stories. 2014-15 Progress Report.

Forum takes up issue of unaccompanied children at the border

The U.S. Mexican border, U.S. is on the left side of the border. Photo: U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Published October 28, 2014

They are as young as 6 when they arrive at the border. And they are alone, without parents or other responsible adults – tens of thousands of children this year, most of them from Mexico and Central America’s so-called Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.  

The flood of unaccompanied minors showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border – driven from their homelands by pervasive violence and gang activity – has been called a major humanitarian crisis. The situation has provoked harsh rhetoric on all sides, with some commentators calling for immediate deportation and a renewed effort to seal off the border, and others urging compassionate care for these young refugees.

At SUNY Buffalo Law School, a student-sponsored panel of law professors and practicing attorneys will take up the question of how we should treated unaccompanied minors at the border. The Oct. 29 discussion, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., will be held in the Cellino & Barnes Conference Center on the fifth floor of the Law School’s home, John Lord O’Brian Hall.

The panelists include:

  • Professor Rick Su, whose scholarship and teaching include a special interest in immigration law.
  • Associate Professor Anjana Malhotra, who also studies immigration law as well as international human rights.
  • Professor Luis E. Chiesa, director of the Criminal Law Center who serves the Law School as vice dean for academic affairs.
  • Attorneys from Journey’s End Refugee Services, the busy refugee-resettlement agency in Buffalo.

The forum is being sponsored by the Latin American Law Students Association. Its president, student Yineska Guerrero, said the group felt the issue of unaccompanied minors at the border deserved a fuller airing in a legal context.

“We have a huge increase of unaccompanied minors coming into the country,” Guerrero says. “As law students and lawyers, we’re supposed to be a vehicle of change. If we don’t discuss it now and pay attention to it now, nothing will change, and these children need to be protected.”

Members of the Buffalo legal community are invited to attend; pre-registration is not required. Questions can be addressed to Guerrero at yineskag@buffalo.edu