'Safe Passage' Brings Legal Aid to Children Facing Deportation

'Safe Passage' Brings Legal Aid to Children Facing Deportation

"Isik Basirir was 15 years old when she left her family's home in Turkey and moved to New York to live with an older sister.  However, when she overstayed her tourist visa, she joined the ranks of hundreds of thousands of undocumented youths living in the shadows in the U.S.  "My sister obtained a green card, I guess a couple of years after I got here, but she didn't have her citizenship back then, so she wasn't able to sponsor me," Basirir said.  "We went to private lawyers, to ask if there's anything we could do.  But they always said ‘no,’ like there's no way."  She finally found her way to the Safe Passage Project, begun in 2006 by Lenni Benson, a professor at New York Law School.  The program trains and matches volunteer pro bono attorneys with children who need representation in immigration court, or who are facing deportation.  Benson says the need is stark: although U.S. immigration law grants children special legal protections, it does not entitle them to lawyers to help secure those rights." - Carolyn Weaver, VOA, May 9, 2014.