All UAC receive the following legal information:
- Mandated “Know Your Rights” workshop
- Pro bono legal service provider lists
- Notification of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status eligibility guidelines
Information about legal services are also maintained and provided upon release.
Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services is required to arrange for legal representation for unaccompanied alien children to the greatest extent practicable, but the law specifically acknowledges that HHS has no obligation to pay for counsel.
ORR provides funding for a legal services provider to give “Know Your Rights” presentation and a legal screening to all unaccompanied alien children (UAC) in ORR custody. A screening determines the UAC’s potential eligibility for immigration relief. The contractor provides direct representation for UAC in ORR short-term custody while they await reunification with a sponsor. Direct representation is also provided for UAC in ORR’s long-term care programs, UAC who are released locally in 9 designated cities, UAC seeking voluntary departure or a removal order and UAC who are without reunification options.
Education and Recreation
While in HHS custody at HHS shelters, UAC are not enrolled in the local school systems. Each UAC must receive a minimum of six hours of structured education, Monday through Friday, throughout the entire year in basic academic areas.
When UAC are released to an appropriate sponsor, while awaiting immigration proceedings, they have a right — just like other children living in their community — to enroll in local schools regardless of their or their sponsors’ actual or perceived immigration or citizenship status. State laws also require children to attend school up to a certain age.
A small number of UAC in HHS custody are placed in long-term foster care instead of being released to a sponsor. These children enroll in public school in the community where their foster care is located. Learn more information about local educational agencies and unaccompanied alien children Visit disclaimer page .
Read more about academic and vocational education services provided by ORR.
Cultural, Language and Religious Observation
Unaccompanied alien children entering ORR custody come from many cultures, practices, languages, and beliefs. Care providers must have the cultural awareness and systems in place to support the cultural identity and needs of each unaccompanied alien child. Additionally, care providers must make every effort possible to provide comprehensive services and literature in the native language of each unaccompanied alien child; provide on-site staff or interpreters as needed; and allow unaccompanied alien children to communicate in their preferred language when they choose. Care providers must also provide opportunities for unaccompanied alien children to observe and practice their spiritual or religious beliefs.
Care providers must develop recreation and leisure plans that include daily outdoor activities, weather permitting, for UAC in their care. Plans include at least one hour per day of large muscle activity and one hour per day of structured leisure time activities other than television (three hours per day on weekends or holidays).
Recreation and leisure time activities are separate from the mandatory physical educational requirement.