Unaccompanied children facing removal proceedings is not a new issue, but one Casa Cornelia has been dealing with for many years. We saw growing numbers of children as early as 2011, with unprecedented spikes in 2014 — when a humanitarian crisis was declared — and 2018, as a result of the Department of Homeland Security’s “Zero Tolerance” policy.
In 2001, when the Children’s Program began, it provided legal services to 120 children. Through 2010, that number only rose to 180 annually. However, the following year, the program served 232 children, a marked increase, and the numbers have continued to trend higher and higher. This has forced organizations and government agencies charged with providing care, housing, and legal services for this vulnerable population to find creative solutions to serve these children. Over the past few years, Casa Cornelia is among the organizations experiencing the impact of the alarming increase in child arrivals.