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Representing Unaccompanied Children in Immigration Court

(824 reviews)

Produced on April 18, 2016

$ 89 Immigration, Civil Rights, and Public Interest In Stock
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Course Information

Time 1h
Difficulty Intermediate

Course Description

Since the summer of 2014, an increasing number of children have been migrating to the United States alone. Many of these young immigrants are fleeing domestic violence, sexual assault, extreme poverty, and terrorization by gang members in their home countries. Once apprehended upon entry to the United States, unaccompanied children are placed into immigration removal (i.e., deportation) proceedings, but are not appointed counsel. Many are eligible to remain in the United States legally, but without an attorney, children stand alone to plead their cases before an Immigration Judge and a trained government prosecutor. 


This course, led by attorneys Matthew Blaisdell and Claire Thomas, is designed for attorneys from all professional backgrounds to develop a basic understanding of who unaccompanied children are and why they are in Immigration Court. In addition, this course will give attorneys a basic understanding of the different ways of securing immigration status for children, including asylum, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), relief for victims of human trafficking, prosecutorial discretion, termination motions, as well as practice tips to secure these forms of relief. Finally, this course will enable attorneys to take concrete steps to represent a young person so that no child stands alone in immigration court. 


Learning Objectives: 

I.     Understand who unaccompanied children are and why they are in Immigration Court 

II.    Recognize different forms of immigration relief for unaccompanied children and learn practice tips for effective representation 

III.   Identify ways practitioners can help this vulnerable population

Note: This course is approved for GAL for children in Virginia. If you would like a GAL certificate, please email our Customer Support team after completing the course.

Credit Information

After completing this course, Lawline will report your attendance information to {{ accredMasterState.state.name }}. Please ensure your license number is filled out in your profile to ensure timely reporting. For more information, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements page . After completing this course, {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} attorneys self-report their attendance and CLE compliance. For more information on how to report your CLE courses, see our {{ accredMasterState.state.name }} CLE Requirements FAQ .


Matthew Blaisdell

Matthew Blaisdell, Esq.

Matthew Blaisdell is an attorney in Brooklyn, New York, with a full concentration in immigration law. He is the former Chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) National Consumer Protection and Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee and currently serves on its Ethics Committee. He frequently writes and presents on these topics, and he has provided testimony to several cities considering legislation to protect immigrant consumers.

He also regularly provides trainings and lectures on topics related to practice management, prosecutorial discretion and advocating before various government agencies, immigration legislation and policies, constitutional issues, immigration options for youth and unaccompanied minors, LGBTQ immigration issues, immigration consequences of criminal activity, humanitarian forms of relief, and employment-based visas.

He received his juris doctor, as well as an LL.M in environmental law, from Pace Law School, and is a graduate of the New York City Environmental Law Leadership Institute (NYCELLI).

Claire R. Thomas


Claire R. Thomas is an attorney, advocate, and adjunct professor interested in migration, statelessness, human rights, and empowerment for women and girls facing poverty and gender-based violence. She graduated from the University of Chicago and also studied at the Université de Paris X, Nanterre. She holds a graduate degree from New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, a law degree from New York Law School, and was a Visiting Scholar at The New School’s Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility. She is an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York Law School, where she directs the Asylum Clinic, a year-long immigration law clinic for adults and children facing removal from the United States, as well as an introductory immigration law course. In addition, Ms. Thomas provides legal assistance for naturalization applicants through bi-monthly immigration clinics with CUNY Citizenship Now! and volunteers assisting refugee mothers and children with the CARA Pro Bono Project in Dilley, Texas.

Previously, Ms. Thomas served as Director of Training at Safe Passage Project, a non-profit housed at New York Law School, in which she mentored pro bono attorneys representing immigrant children; supervised law students, fellows and staff; coordinated a monthly Juvenile Docket at the New York Immigration Court; planned, organized and conducted trainings for over 5,000 interested persons; and engaged in advocacy efforts with other non-profit organizations as well as city, state, and federal agencies. Before, she advocated for the rights of African, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern immigrants as a legal intern, then staff attorney at African Services Committee, a Harlem-based non-profit that assists persons living with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, Ms. Thomas provided pro bono representation for survivors of gender-based violence, including minors, in immigration proceedings. Ms. Thomas also directed “Projet Aimée,” African Services Committee’s women’s empowerment group for survivors of gender-based violence, funded by a Community Action Grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

Ms. Thomas is a member of the Immigration & Nationality Law Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and is the current co-chair of the Benefits and Immigration subcommittee. Her writings have appeared in various law journals and other publications. She was an Opinion Columnist for Anthropology News, a publication of the American Anthropological Associations. She speaks French fluently and is learning Spanish.


kathleen l.

Excellent updates in the materials.

Debbie Ann R.

Excellent course.

solomon g.

Extremely well thought out and put together! Thank you

Joseph T.


Kichul K.


Mary F.

Very informative, comprehensive.

Alan G.

very informative

Richard C.

Wonderfully clear presentation, on a sometimes very complicated topic. Thank you.

Erin B.

Nice job!



MaryAnne C.


Richard W.

Wow! Things I didn't know to ask about! That picture of volunteers lined up to help minors in court won't soon be forgotten. The current situation of minors separated from their parents in the Rio Grand Valley in Texas and flown to NYC doesn't feel so grim now. Keep up the good work!

Laura c.

Excellent presentation!

Joyce M.

excellent presentation

Richard R.

Well done! Appreciated both for their professionalism and knowledge. Also appreciated the fact that they did not shamelessly advertise for themselves. Thank you

Stacy A.

Excellent, thank you.

Peter S.

very good presentation

Jamaal B.

Interesting and timely subject matter, especially in this iteration of America.

Joanna S.

solid information

Wendy S.

Helpful & informative.

Aimee T.

Excellent presentation

Ify U.

Wonderful presentation. Highly informative. Thank you.

Sha-Shana C.

Excellent Presentation.

Frederick K.

A very informative course not only for the beginner, but those who have some experience in immigration.

James B.

I like the format with two presenters.

Zachary M.

Inspiring. Hopefully the new administration won't render this worthy endeavor academic.

Jorge R.

Good presentation.

John C.

Great program.

simana r.

Really informative.

Hillary A.

The format of this CLE as a Q/A worked well. I enjoyed this program and its presenters.

carol ann a.

A refreshing change: a course which encourages one to use credentials for more than income. Appreciate the advocacy. CLE should make one think - not to mention feel.

Cynthia W.

Excellent materials. Thanks!

Margaret H.

Thank you very much, clearly stated and intelligently discussed

Patricia B.

Comprehensive, succinct and important presentation.

Jamilee K.

This presentation was very well-done. I learned much from the presenters.

F. Kim C.

The complicate chart used by the speaker was actually very good.

Jennifer K.

Well done. Interesting and informative.

Steve S.


Thomas P.

very basic beginner level course.

Carolyn A.

I liked the Q and A format.

Fabian G.


Mickie B.

Very informative

Carrie O.

Excellent overview of SIJS and great summary of asylum

Fredda B.

Commend you on your interesting presentation and the great work you do to assist these children.

Constance H.

What an outstanding presentation. So impressed by what Attorney Thomas is doing for so many young children.

Patrick M.

Great team work. I learned a lot.

tina w.


Richard M.

This course has motivated me to look further

Harmony M.

great way to ease atty into much needed area that can be intimidating to enter.

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