CILA & COI Issue Survey Results on Adherence to ABA Standards for Unaccompanied Children

CILA is a project of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Commission on Immigration (COI). The COI wrote coordinated the drafting of the Standards for the Custody, Placement and Care; Legal Representation; and Adjudication of Unaccompanied Alien Children in the United States (Standards) to guide practitioners and adjudicators involved in unaccompanied children’s cases. In doing so, COI brought together many talented individuals nationwide who have dedicated their careers to serving unaccompanied children. The Standards were last updated in 2018. In August 2023, COI and CILA collaborated to conduct a survey to gather information regarding whether the Standards were being followed and issued a report in December 2023 with the survey results.  

The report, “2023 Survey Results on Adherence to ABA Standards for the Custody, Placement and Care; Legal Representation; and Adjudication of Unaccompanied Alien Children in the United States,” provides an introduction to the survey, a summary of key issues raised in the survey, and then concludes by providing the complete survey questions and responses from 113 participating legal and social services practitioners. The survey questions track the content of the Standards. The results provide information about positive changes and areas where there is generally more compliance with the Standards and areas where change is necessary to bring practices into compliance with the Standards

Generally, the report can be used by organizations and other stakeholders to have a better picture of unaccompanied children’s work on a larger scale. The results can be utilized to aid research, education and training, policy, advocacy, accountability, and outreach efforts.  

Moreover, practitioners working in the field and pro bono attorneys can use the Standards in numerous ways. For example, they can help advocates: 

  • Learn about various stakeholders involved in unaccompanied children’s cases and an overview of key issues affecting unaccompanied children;  
  • Gain knowledge about ethical issues that may arise; and 
  • Support arguments for better treatment for unaccompanied children.  

To learn more about how practitioners can use the Standards in their work, consult this CILA resource, “FAQ: The ABA’s Standards for the Custody, Placement and Care; Legal Representation and Adjudication of Unaccompanied Alien Children in the United States.”