Villanova University School of Law Hosts “The Path of the Unaccompanied Minor” on April 9

In the past year nearly 51,000 unaccompanied children have sought safety in the U.S., fleeing from violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. But after crossing the border, children as young as 6 years old are taken into custody and housed in detention facilities until they can be placed with a family member, sponsor or in foster care.

On Thursday, April 9 from 9:15 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Villanova University School of Law hosts “The Path of the Unaccompanied Minor: Examining Legal and Community Responses to a Humanitarian Crisis,” which aims to shed light on the seriousness of the crisis, address society’s moral and ethical responsibility and recommend specific action steps. The all-day event is sponsored by Villanova University School of Law Clinical Program, the Villanova University Partnership with Catholic Relief Services and Villanova Campus Ministry.

This program is approved by the Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board for 3 substantive and 1 ethics CLE credits. It is free and open to the public.

Click here to register.

This program comes at a time when The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), human rights and humanitarian organizations, religious bodies, the media, the courts and attorneys who represent the children have raised serious questions on the conditions of the detention facilities, the lack of essential support services for children, the inadequate legal representation and the overall justice and humaneness of the immigration and legal systems.

Panelists with firsthand experience working with these children will lead discussions that follow five aspects of the children’s journey: the push factors driving them out of their home countries, the conditions of the detention facilities, the legal obstacles they face when they arrive, the unique challenges they face integrating into U.S. communities, and their fate if deported. The conference will also identify resources, current efforts and contacts to aid in this crisis, and suggest effective ways to assist.

All panels take place in the Laurence E. Hirsch ’71 Classroom (Room 101). The schedule is as follows:

9:15 – 10:00 a.m.  - Registration and Breakfast (Law School Lobby)

10:00 – 10:25 a.m.  - Part I: Welcome and Introduction - Voices of the Unaccompanied

  • Michael Moreland, Vice Dean and Professor of Law, Villanova University
  • Voice of an Unaccompanied Minor: Marcelo Ulin Az

10:25 - 11:30 a.m. - Part II: Push Factors: Influencing Migration Policies?

  • Juan R. Sheenan, Catholic Relief Services Country Representative for Honduras
  • Moderator: Michael Matza, Reporter at the The Philadelphia Inquirer

11:30 - 11:50 a.m. - Part III: The U.S. Catholic Church’s Position

12:00 - 12:55 p.m. - Lunch

  • Informal Conversation with Juan Sheenan; Gracie Murphree, Heart of Christ Honduras
  • View film on the journey, visit agency outreach information tables, stories of unaccompanied minors (Commons)

1:00 - 2:15 p.m.  - Part IV: Detention: The Ethics of Protecting the Rights of Children

  • Bridget Cambria, Partner at Cambria & Kline, PC, Specializing in Immigration Law
  • Carol Anne Donohue, President of The Greater Reading Immigration Project
  • Jacquelyn Kline, Partner at Cambria & Kline, PC, Specializing in Immigration Law
  • Elissa Steglich, Legal Services Director at Immigrant Rights Program, American Friends Service Committee, Newark, N.J.
  • Moderator: Gregory Matthews, J.D. Candidate 2015

2:30 - 3:45  p.m. - Part V: Analyzing the Legal Framework Panel

  • Justin Mixon, Immigrant Youth Attorney at Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
  • Jennifer Nagda, Policy Director at Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights
  • Sarah Plastino, Supervising Attorney at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Newark Office
  • Moderator: Alanna Kearney, J.D. Candidate 2015

4:00 - 5:15 p.m.  - Part VI: Integration, Community Challenges, What You Can Do

  • Julia Gill, Catholic Charities, RCC Diocese of Wilmington
  • Cathi Tillman, Executive Director at La Puerta Abierta (The Open Door)
  • Voices of Unaccompanied Minors: Marcelo Ulin Az
  • Moderators: Beth Lyon, Professor of Law, Farmworker Legal Aid Clinic (FLAC), Villanova University School of Law; Alanna Kearney, JD Candidate 2015; and Christine Marcozzi, JD Candidate 2015

Closing Remarks: Michele Pistone, Director of the Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES), Villanova University School of Law

5:15 – 6:00 p.m. – Reception – Arthur M. Goldberg Commons

Agency Outreach and Resource Tables:

  • Puerto Abierta
  • Aquinas Center
  • Centro San Jose/Centro de Apoyo
  • ACALMO – Invited
  • PICC – Invited
  • CRS Student Ambassadors
  • Villanova University Law Clinic
  • New Sanctuary – Sending Resources