Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is a United Nations treaty establishing human rights standards for the treatment and development of children. It recognizes that "people under 18 years old often need special care and protection that adults do not" and lays out basic human rights standards as applicable to children (Convention on the Rights of the Child website).
Immigration proceedings in the United States do not have legal provisions offering special care and protection for children. Children face the same courts and judges as adults, and similarly, they have no right to counsel at government expense.
The Immigrant Child Advocacy Project (ICAP) pairs Child Advocates with children in immigration proceedings. A Child Advocate has many duties, among which are providing support for the child, helping them obtain proper legal representation, and advocating for the child's best interests according to the standards provided for in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In the following interview excerpt, ICAP Director and Founder Maria Woltjen discusses the origins of the Child Advocate role, and Child Advocates' many duties as they assist children in immigration proceedings.