DUC Tales: Reflections on One Month at CAIR Coalition
During Noviembre de Niños we highlight the work of our detained children’s program, which we refer to as DUCS. At CAIR Coalition, we contract with the Division of Unaccompanied Children’s Services (DUCS) Legal Access Project and are the only organization representing detained immigrant children in Virginia and Maryland (DC does not have any immigration detention centers for children).
The US immigration system is complicated enough for those of us who work in the field so just imagine how difficult it can be for detained unaccompanied immigrant children to understand. That’s what makes the work of CAIR Coalition so important as our team performs “Know Your Rights” presentations, interviews every child to gather facts about their experiences and potential legal relief, and provides legal representation to these children in immigration detention.
In addition to being help in civil detention for indeterminate periods of time, the children we serve are an extremely vulnerable population: children fleeing violence, abuse, difficult country conditions, and poverty. They are also a courageous population: children who braved an extremely arduous journey to seek a better life for themselves. I have visited a few of the detention centers in the month that I’ve been at CAIR coalition and in that time I have come to find both expected and unexpected challenges and encouragements from working with these children.
These children face unique challenges in the immigration system, and those of us representing them face unique challenges representing child clients. Earlier this month, my colleague Karine posted about Best Practices for Representing Immigrant Children. Her post highlighted several challenges unique to this population. For instance, how sometimes children’s’ memories or sense of time can be different than adults, and they can have difficulty with chronology and timelines, especially if they’ve been through trauma.
Many of these children have incredible difficult stories, they have experiences horrors and tribulations that can weigh them down, and weigh down those who seek to offer help. However, the beauty of children is that they can offer in innate sense optimism for the future, especially when they have hope, and more than a temporary distraction for a monotonous day in detention, that’s what your gifts from the Amazon wish list provide: hope.
Lastly, one of the best aspects of working with these children is the team I get to work with while doing so. The DUCS team here at CAIR Coalition cares deeply about fighting for the rights of these children, and I’m proud to be a part of it. Quack quack!