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A difficult journey: young people and the road to deportation

People from other countries regularly come to the U.S. with the intention of reuniting with family members. Many of these immigrants are young people who are looking to escape a dangerous or undesirable situation in their home country and come to the U.S. to find a parent or other relative and a better life.

Unfortunately, these young people can face some of the most troubling challenges in terms of immigration. An article in The New York Times recently profiled a number of young teens from South America who are working their way through the immigration system. That article, which can be read in full here, explores the numerous legal challenges that people in this situation face.

To begin with, it must be understood that any person who comes to the U.S. without permission and documentation is at risk of being detained and then deported. Currently, huge numbers of people facing deportation actions are teens and children, as tens of thousands of the people crossing into the U.S. from Mexico last year were young people who were unaccompanied.

Now these young people are being pushed through an overwhelmed legal system without a clear understanding of what they need to do and what options they have to protect themselves. In many cases, a young person facing removal will be deported for failing to show up for a court date or failing to convince a judge that they qualify for certain types of relief, like Special Immigration Juvenile visas or asylum.

Further, avoiding deportation can require an extensive amount of work which can be enormously confusing for a young person to try and figure out alone and/or without the help of an attorney. Building a case against deportation can seem all but impossible, especially when they are already struggling to reconnect with family members, learn a new language and take care of themselves.

Considering all the obstacles that stand between young people and immigrant visas, it can be crucial for them and their families to discuss their options with an attorney. It may not be easy, but securing legal representation can make the difference between deportation and relief. 

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