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Brooklyn Lawyers Busy with Young Immigrant Wave

by Jeff Coltin
Airport Immigration

rickpilot_2000, flickr

Many young Central Americans fight a losing battle to win political asylum.

More young people from Central America are crossing the U.S. southern border without their parents than ever before. 

President Obama's asking Congress for $3.7 billion to deal with the issue and Border Patrol is working overtime to process all the youth. But the issue isn't limited to border states.

Heather Axford is an attorney with Central American Legal Assistance, or CALA in Brooklyn.  Axford and the rest of CALA give all kinds of legal consultation to immigrants, but their specialty is political asylum.  She said they've seen an increase in walk-in's under the age of 18.  Kids who've ended up in New York because the government tries to settle them with family members while they await deportation proceedings.

Axford said the youth have fled from violence in the so-called "Northern Triangle" of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.  Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, but the nature of the violence there makes her job tough.

"Asylum law for people who are fleeing organized crime is very complicated, and it's very difficult to win asylum," she said.

In this city of immigrants, CALA expects to stay busy for a long time.


The issue of unaccompanied minor immigrants isn't just for border states.

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