2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Stephen Kang

Stephen Kang

Name of Host Organization: ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project
City, State: San Francisco, California
Issue area: Immigrant Populations
Sponsors: Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman Foundation

The Project

Stephen worked to establish a right to appointed counsel and greater due process protections for unaccompanied minors in deportation proceedings through direct representation, impact litigation, and advocacy.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Every year, an increasing number of unaccompanied children—some as young as five years old—are funneled into the deportation system. The Vera Institute of Justice recently issued a report finding that more than 8,000 children were placed into removal proceedings in fiscal year 2010; a recent New York Times story states that this number rose to 11,000 during the first eight months of 2012. Without a right to appointed counsel in removal proceedings, those who cannot hire lawyers or find pro bono counsel must represent themselves. Immigration law is notoriously complicated. Without legal representation, many children will not receive the relief to which they are entitled. The absence of a right to appointed counsel for unaccompanied minors results directly in the unjust detention and deportation of thousands of immigrant children.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During his Fellowship, Stephen has:
• Launched JEFM v. Lynch, a putative nationwide class action on behalf of all children under 18 in immigration proceedings, in the midst of an unprecedented wave of migration of children and families fleeing persecution in Central America. Stephen participated in every aspect of the case, including drafting pleadings and briefs; gathering declarations from witnesses and legal service providers throughout the country; interviewing plaintiffs; and coordinating a team of lawyers spread in multiple cities
• Engaged in media advocacy to bring much-needed attention to the due process problems faced by children in immigration proceedings in order to push back against the federal government’s attempts to fast-track the deportation of children and young families seeking asylum in the United States
• Developed lasting connections with a nationwide network of advocates and lawyers working on children’s immigration issues, which will inform the ACLU’s work in a range of areas
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Stephen will stay on at the ACLU as a detention attorney and continue to litigate JEFM v. Lynch in order to establish a right to appointed counsel for children in immigration proceedings.

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