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Group Training Pro-Bono Lawyers To Help With Surge Of Immigrant Kid Cases

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A legal group is training hundreds of pro-bono attorneys to help undocumented kids from Central America.

As WCBS 880's Monica Miller reported, about a thousand kids and teenagers in the New York City area are waiting for their fates to be determined by the New York Immigration Court.

Claire Thomas, the staff attorney for the Safe Passage Project, said many of the children don't have legal representation, and that's why her group is training volunteer lawyers as fast as it can.

Group Training Pro-Bono Lawyers To Help With Surge Of Immigrant Children Cases

Thomas said the cases have been put on priority dockets, "meaning that these cases are being processed more quickly and that we need more and more lawyers."

The pro-bono attorneys come from various backgrounds -- "everything from personal injury, to medical malpractice, commercial litigation," Thomas said.

She said the Safe Passage Project trains lawyers on how to navigate the legal system and also to deal with traumatized children.

"These children that we see are very scared," Thomas said. "We bring an art table, some toys and some puzzles."

A federal goal has been set for children to go before an immigration judge within 21 days of being placed in the deportation process.

"Of the children Safe Passage has worked with, 80 to 90 percent have a form of legal relief," Thomas said.

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