Project Ishmael is a small immigration legal clinic for children located inside First Grace United Methodist Church in New Orleans. Our 3 main goals are:
1) to meet some of the immigration legal needs of children in New Orleans through direct representation and education,
2) to coordinate volunteer attorneys to help meet the diverse legal needs of women and children who currently live at Hagar's House, and
3) to challenge systemic injustices that allow children and their families to be separated, harassed, deported or incarcerated based on skin color or immigration status.
"All children have these rights, no matter who they are, where they live, what their parents do, what language they speak, what their religion is, whether they are a boy or girl, what their culture is, whether they have a disability, whether they are rich or poor . . ."
- UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:
In Child Friendly Language, Art. 2.
As of January 2020, 22,986 juveniles in Louisiana (13,357 juveniles in New Orleans) are in immigration court proceedings and have no lawyer.
6,854 juveniles without a lawyer in New Orleans have been ordered removed (deported), while only 544 juvenile with a lawyer have been ordered removed. Meaning, children have been over 12 times more likely to receive removal orders in our city if they do not have a lawyer.
Having a lawyer makes a huge difference in a child’s case. See http://trac.syr.edu/phptools/immigration/juvenile/ for updated numbers.
"Children from Central America are crossing the Mexico-U.S. border unaccompanied by a parent. Many of them are fleeing drug violence at home. . . Countries in what’s known as the isthmus, the region that stretches from Nicaragua to Guatemala, have the highest murder rates in the world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Data from that office shows Honduras is home to the deadliest city in the world, San Pedro Sula, where 169 out of every 100,000 people are murdered.. . . Juvenile immigration court is a traditionally adversarial process, with a prosecutor who usually makes the case that a child should be deported and, in the best case, a lawyer representing the child. But if the child has no lawyer, there is little chance that she or he will be able to stay, even if they have a valid asylum claim. Click here to see NPR's "No Country for Lost Kids."