“Supporting Immigrant Youth Caught in the Crosshairs of the Justice System” from the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) addresses the challenges faced by immigrant youth in both the justice and school systems. The policy platform stresses that the United States must treat immigrant youth “equitably, with dignity, and in a way that supports positive youth development and the rehabilitative goals of the youth justice system” (page 1). The report also notes that in the U.S., local governments have had a more difficult time supporting immigrant youth due to growing tension and anti-immigrant rhetoric.
NJJN identifies three areas of harm that may affect immigrant youth: state and local governments’ collaboration with federal immigration law, the juvenile justice system and zero tolerance policies.
Some of the key policy recommendations from NJJN that may help deter immigrant youth from the juvenile justice system are:
- State and local governments, youth justice and school systems should not enforce federal immigration laws but instead implement policies that encourage immigrant youth success.
- Schools should implement policies that do not allow governments to investigate school records without a warrant and schools should limit the use of school resource officers as disciplinarians.
- Avoid youth detention/detainment.
- Juvenile justice systems should ensure that youth are provided counsel that understand the immigration consequences of juvenile justice system involvement and allow immigrant youth access to community-based alternatives that are culturally and linguistically relevant.
Overall, NJJN argues for more support of youth development through policies that avoid detainment and detention instead of policies that separate and further traumatize immigrant youth.
Read the full report here.