Details: Salary is commensurate with experience.
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights invites applications for the position of Staff Attorney in the Young Center’s Houston regional office. The Young Center’s mission is to promote the best interests—safety and well-being—of unaccompanied immigrant children in the United States. The Young Center is a children’s rights organization dedicated to bringing a holistic child welfare lens to children in the immigration system. The immediate focus of the Young Center’s work is to serve as federally-appointed Child Advocate (best interests guardian ad litem) for unaccompanied immigrant children.
The children served by the Young Center have all been apprehended by immigration authorities and placed in federal detention for children. Some of the children are still in detention, while others may be released to sponsors in the community. In addition, most of the children are in removal (deportation) proceedings and must, therefore, appear in immigration court. Young Center Child Advocates do not act in the capacity of immigration attorney; when a child has an immigration attorney, that attorney represents the child’s legal (stated) interests while the Child Advocate submits recommendations as to the child’s best interests.
The Staff Attorney position is a unique opportunity to engage in written and oral advocacy on behalf of unaccompanied immigrant children, applying federal law, domestic child welfare law, and international human rights law. The Staff Attorney will be appointed as Child Advocate, and will also supervise volunteers— social workers, teachers, law students, community members—appointed as Child Advocate. In this role, the Staff Attorney will gather information from the child and stakeholders and will then draft and submit best interests recommendations to the federal agencies with authority over children’s care, custody and immigration status, as well as to state court judges, as applicable.
The Young Center’s best interests recommendations focus on the child’s safety, permanency and well-being. By way of example, a Child Advocate may recommend that a child: be released from detention and reunified with a parent, be stepped down to a less restrictive setting, or not be repatriated to his/her home country because that child will not be safe. The Staff Attorney will develop expertise in relevant statutes and conventions, including the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and UNHCR Guidelines for Determining the Best Interests of the Child.
The Young Center team is a passionate and interdisciplinary group of professionals—attorneys, social workers, and administrative staff—committed to ensuring that immigrant children are recognized as children, first and foremost, and receive the full protection they deserve under the law, even though they’re caught in an immigration system that often views them as adults-in-miniature.
Duties and Responsibilities: The Staff Attorney’s primary responsibilities will be to:
- Oversee a docket of cases in which the Staff Attorney, or volunteers supervised by the Staff Attorney, are appointed as Child Advocate to unaccompanied children held in federal custody across the Houston area.
- Advance cases by gathering information about each child’s life from the child, family members, and agencies with relevant information.
- Apply a child-rights paradigm to identify and advocate for the best interests of these unaccompanied children with each federal agency with authority over the child, including shelter officials, the custodial agency (within the federal Department of Health and Human Services), immigration judges, asylum officers, immigration attorneys, and state court judges when applicable.
- Draft and submit written best interests recommendations applying federal, state and international law.
- Develop relationships and coordinate with stakeholders serving unaccompanied children in the Houston area.
- Train and supervise volunteer Child Advocates in the Houston area.
- Assist with monthly reporting and other program and administrative responsibilities as necessary.
- Other duties as assigned.
- J.D. and authorization to practice law.
- Proficiency in Spanish, including the ability to speak with children in Spanish and to communicate over the telephone in Spanish with children, family members, and others.
- A car, valid driver’s license, and insurance are required for travel to Houston area facilities.
- Excellent written and oral advocacy skills.
- Ability to take initiative, to work collaboratively, and an enthusiasm for working with volunteers.
- Excellent time management and organization skills.
- An ability to work collaboratively in a multi-disciplinary environment.
- Passion, tenacity and optimism for the issues affecting immigrant children and their families.
- At least two years of experience practicing law, ideally in the fields of child welfare, juvenile justice, or immigration.
The Young Center is an "at-will" and equal opportunity employer. Applicants and employees shall not be discriminated against because of race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender (including pregnancy and gender expression) identity, color, marital status, veteran status, medical condition, or any other classification protected by federal, state, or local law or ordinance. Reasonable accommodation will be made so that qualified disabled applicants may participate in the application process. Please advise in writing of special needs at the time of application.
The Young Center provides an excellent benefits package.
Level of Language Proficiency
Proficiency in Spanish, including the ability to speak with children in Spanish and to communicate over the telephone in Spanish with children, family members, and others
Minimum Education Required
How To Apply
Job offer is conditioned on clearance of fingerprint criminal background check, child abuse and neglect check (CANTS) and tuberculosis test.
Review of candidates will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Please email a cover letter, resume, three references and a writing sample to jobs@TheYoungCenter.org and include the title “Houston Staff Attorney” in the subject line. To learn more about the Young Center’s work, please visit www.TheYoungCenter.org.