Unaccompanied Alien Children – No Ceiling on AmeriCorp Funding: Now A New Bill

When the “Unaccompanied Alien Children” (UAC) began pouring across our borders in mid-2014, the Department of Justice (DOJ) set up a program with AmeriCorp and gave it a cute name: “justice AmeriCorp.” A grant of $2 million (Judicial Watch says there’s really no ceiling), came with the cute name. The money was to be used for lawyers to represent the unaccompanied, illegal alien children in court, but from sea-to-shining sea, few show up for their hearings. I’m betting the attorneys get paid anyway. I’m betting the $2 million is gone and more has been poured into the program with children still not showing up. So it begs the question: why has Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19th) and Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act, calling for taxpayers to fund the kids in court when we’re already funding them? You can find Reid’s bill (S.2540 here). NumbersUSA reports the numbers of kids coming in doubled in Fiscal 2016, October 1, 2015 – January 31-2016. The number of family units almost tripled in that same time period. We tend to think of these children as Mexicans, but friends, the majority are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. By July 2014, the Border Patrol out of Nogales, Arizona were holding sixteen “unaccompanied alien children,” who are members of MS-13 (Mara Salvatruch), a “transnational criminal gang.” July 2014 –– the incursion was just beginning.

A Border Patrol Riverine Unit conducts patrols in an Air and Marine Safe-Boat in South Texas along the Rio Grande river. They rescue a child who is stranded on the river bank of the Rio Grande. US Customs and Border Protection on Flickr, Creative Commons license Photographer: Donna Burton

A Border Patrol Riverine Unit conducts patrols in an Air and Marine Safe-Boat in South Texas along the Rio Grande river. They rescue a child who is stranded on the river bank of the Rio Grande.  US Customs and Border Protection on Flickr, Creative Commons licensePhotographer: Donna Burton


The number of unaccompanied alien children (0-17 years old) that were apprehend between October 1- January 31 has doubled from 10,105 in 2015 to 20,455 in 2016. The number of family units apprehended in the same time period has almost tripled from 9,090 in 2015 to 24,616 in 2016.

A recent DHS intelligence report showed that 60% of the family units apprehended at the border said that current U.S. immigration policies influenced their decision to come to the U.S.

U.S. - Texas Border June 2014

U.S. – Texas Border June 2014

From Rep. Lofgren’s House page:

The Fair Day in Court for Kids Act ensures due process for children and vulnerable individuals, and offers an alternative to ICE raids that risk sending individuals to dangerous countries where they face threats of violence, abuse, or even death.

Note in the above how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is characterized as being ‘risky’ to those who have crossed our borders illegally. The job description for ICE has changed since the beginning of the Obama administration. One more opportunity for Democrats to render impotent, our laws and those who enforce them.

Lofgren’s legislation is new and I haven found a number assigned to it. Her website says the legislation includes the following, and note the slyly alluded to: huge numbers added to the government pay roll.

● Requires the government to appoint counsel to children, and vulnerable individuals, including those with disabilities and victims of

Zoe Lofgren (D-CA -19th)

Zoe Lofgren (D-CA -19th)

abuse, torture, or violence.

● Requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Attorney General to establish procedures to ensure that legal orientation programs are available to all detained immigrants.

Creates a case management pilot project to increase court appearance rates.

Requires DHS to submit reports to Congress on the number of individuals identified in the Act who were represented by counsel and the number of individuals who received legal orientation presentations. Source

Numbers USA:

Federal courts, however, have repeatedly ruled that since immigration hearings are civil cases the illegal alien children do not qualify for government-funded lawyers under the Constitution.

Border crossings by unaccompanied minors have doubled in fiscal year 2016 compared to the same time period in 2015, overwhelming the immigration courts, schools, hospitals and social services responsible for helping place and care for the unaccompanied children.

Many of these illegal alien children claim asylum, saying they face serious consequences if they are returned home. According to a report by the Migration Policy Institute only about one in six minors actually show up for their court hearings.

May 2015, Judicial Watch reported the Obama Administration set aside $2 million for legal fees to keep illegal alien minors in this country. The $2 Mil was to be distributed by troubled AmeriCorp, through the U.S. Department of Justice.

The administration plans to enroll approximately 100 lawyers and paralegals to provide legal services to the “most vulnerable of these children,” the announcement says. The cash giveaway is also being promoted in the government’s general grant database for all federal agencies as an open-ended project with no listed money cap. This, of course, indicates that the $2 million allocation is just a start. In most cases, an “award ceiling” is listed in the grant amount, but not in this case. The money will likely keep flowing until all the UACs are safe in the United States with full rights and benefits.

Another interesting tidbit is found in the broader Justice AmeriCorps document targeting perspective grantees with a detailed explanation of how the program will function. This includes hypothetical questions and concerns that grantees may have, such as what happens if the program funding expires before a case is concluded.

We have been funding these children in every way, including their representation in Court. Are we funneling the money coming from the Lofgren/Reid bills to scandal-ridden AmeriCorp?


  • Pay extra for legal representation? Isn’t that what public defenders are for?

    • Mike, honestly, I replied to this immediately but it’s not showing. I find my replies showing on my dashboard but not here. Maybe public defenders do not defend illegals?

      • That may be, Maggie. Also, I told the NSA to quash any commenters who disagree with me, but Edward Snowden enjoyed your comment! Sorry for the inconvenience! ; )

        • Guess the FBI didn’t go to NSA to get Farook and Malik’s communications.

          • That phone business is a circular firing squad. The county owns the phone and the password was screwed up after it came back into their or FBI custody. The person who decided the password needed to be changed (why would you do that?) and then changed it without writing it down ought to be fired.

            • I haven’t followed the details of the phone that closely, but when we refuse to profile, when it looks like Malik was in the US, supposedly before she every met Farook, and he made his trips out of the country to terrorist safe havens, I don’t have much sympathy for the situation “intelligence” is in. I kinda/sorta support Apple’s position.

  • Fixall

    If Obama let the Border Patrol due their job, we could stop a lot of these crossings. And who is authorizing all the money for these Lawyers?

    • Hi Fixall, the new bill would be authorized and appropriated through the budget (I’m guessing). The money spent for the past two years has been grants that Obama pulls out of thing air (or something). It’s a miracle we have anyone on our borders.