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Unaccompanied Juveniles in INS Custody
Report Number I-2001-009
September 28, 2001


Scope and Methodology

During our inspection, we visited 16 juvenile facilities: 6 secure facilities, 7 shelter facilities, 2 group homes, and 1 foster home. The 16 facilities visited housed 2,410 of the 4,136 (58 percent) of the unaccompanied juveniles in custody in FY 2000. The secure detention facilities we visited included: Liberty County Juvenile Detention Center in the Houston, Texas, District; Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall in the Los Angeles, California, District; as well as Central Juvenile Hall-Eastlake in the Los Angeles District; Berks County Youth Center in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, District; Gila County Youth Detention Center in the Phoenix, Arizona, District; and Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Hall in the Washington, D.C., District. We also visited seven shelters: two Southwest Key facilities, Casa Grande in Phoenix, Arizona, and La Esperanza in the Harlingen, Texas, District; Los Fresnos, an International Educational Services shelter in the Harlingen District; Chicago Connections in the Chicago, Illinois, District; Boystown in the Miami, Florida, District; Catholic Charities in the Houston, Texas, District; and the Cochise County Children's Center in the Phoenix, Arizona, District.

We visited the Washington, D.C., District, and conducted more extensive reviews of the juvenile programs in 7 of the INS's 33 districts: Chicago, Harlingen, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. The districts represented all three regions and border and interior locations. We visited three Border Patrol sectors: McAllen, Miami, and Tucson. We visited two INS Service Processing Center (SPC) detention facilities: Florence SPC in Arizona and Krome SPC in Florida. We also interviewed officers from the Public Health Service (PHS), including the PHS liaison with the Berks County shelter and detention facility and the PHS staff at the Florence SPC.

In each district we visited, we spoke with the district juvenile coordinator and facility staff. We spoke with the district director, the deputy district director, and the assistant district directors for most of the operational components at every site (except Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.). We interviewed senior Executive Office for Immigration Review staff and nine immigration judges who hear juvenile cases for each of the districts we visited (except Houston and Washington, D.C.). In Chicago, Harlingen, Miami, and Phoenix, we interviewed INS attorneys. We interviewed officers from the Inspections Division and Investigations Division at all sites (except Houston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.). At each site except Washington, D.C., we interviewed local legal service providers or immigrant rights organizations. In Miami, we interviewed INS officers from the INS Office of International Affairs' Humanitarian Affairs Branch (HAB) who were responsible for monitoring the home assessment process and for conducting program inspections of shelter care facilities.

We also interviewed the INS regional juvenile coordinators for all three regions - Eastern, Central, and Western. We interviewed staff of the Juvenile Affairs Division, staff of the Office of Detention and Removal, and staff of the HAB. We interviewed representatives from the American Bar Association and two national immigrants rights groups: the U.S. Catholic Conference, and the Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service.

The data presented in this report is based primarily on analysis of the INS's Juvenile Alien Management System (JAMS) database. See Appendix II and III for more detail.