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December 21, 2023Washington, DC, United StatesStatement

ICE, EOIR establish ‘juvenile docket’ for children and teenagers

Specialized docket will ensure consistency in juvenile immigration proceedings

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA), in coordination with the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), announced the creation of specialized juvenile dockets in 49 immigration courts across the country. Through this initiative, specially trained OPLA staff will manage all cases on EOIR’s juvenile dockets, which will help ensure tailored, consistent, child-centered support for juvenile noncitizens. In keeping with Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas’s priority to combat human trafficking, these case managers will be trained in identifying signs of child exploitation as well as available avenues for protection. The juvenile docket will also maximize opportunities for children and teenagers appearing in immigration courts to access outside legal advice and counsel.

“The juvenile docket will help identify and support children and teenagers who may be victims of human trafficking or child exploitation. Juvenile points of contact will be trained to recognize common indicators of these crimes in order to seek engagement by our ICE colleagues to provide protection and support to these children when needed, while ensuring fair adjudication of their cases before the court,” said ICE Principal Legal Advisor Kerry E. Doyle. “This new initiative is for the well-being of children throughout their immigration proceedings.”

To aid in the consistent implementation of this important national initiative, OPLA has developed a general framework to handle cases in immigration proceedings on the juvenile dockets. The framework:

  • Assigns specially trained OPLA juvenile points of contact (POCs) in each OPLA field location to manage cases on EOIR’s juvenile dockets.
  • Ensures OPLA juvenile POCs serve specialized roles in immigration proceedings, to include identifying any appropriate applications for protection or relief with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for which the juvenile noncitizen may be eligible.
  • Streamlines review of requests for prosecutorial discretion (PD) filed by or on behalf of juvenile noncitizens.
  • Collaborates with attorneys, nongovernmental organizations, and nonprofit organizations who represent juvenile noncitizens on discretionary requests, such as joint motions, the timely issuance of Notices to Appear, requests for voluntary departure, and other forms of prosecutorial discretion.
  • Ensures timely communication with USCIS and EOIR during the pendency of removal proceedings.
A Director's Memorandum 24-01, Children's Cases in Immigration Court outlining EOIR’s commitment to this joint initiative was published today.