Young immigrants who enter the U.S. unaccompanied are particularly vulnerable, and struggle to access a variety of services, a study by the Vera Institute of Justice found.
Researchers interviewed youth who entered the U.S. unaccompanied and found their way to New York City.
They found that both unaccompanied youth and service providers lacked information about how to handle a variety of obstacles related to social services and civic services for the youth.
“Although legal service providers who participated in the study estimate that a majority of youth are eligible for immigration relief, youth participants cited the complexity of the immigration system and the difficulty of finding a competent attorney as barriers to prioritizing legal assistance,” researchers wrote.
The result is often barriers to employment, housing, education and English language instruction, according to the study. Respondents said that access to education in particular, “remains a significant challenge, with youth study participants sharing an array of obstacles to enrolling in school and receiving a quality education free of discrimination.”
The study notes that federal policymakers are “divided between protective and punitive measures” for undocumented and unaccompanied youth, but researchers conclude that there is an opportunity for local governments to develop policies that may encourage successful outcomes for the group.
Read the full report HERE.