KIND attorneys present about children in immigration process


Photo credit: Anna Brodsky

Iris Franco pictured left and Veronica Jeffers discuss the current immigration status for children entering the U.S. They came to Archer in lieu of conversations after Diversity conference on Jan. 29

By Allie Worchell, Voices Editor

The upper school came together on Feb. 7 to listen to a presentation from two lawyers, Iris Franco and Veronica Jeffers, who work at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). According to their website, KIND is theleading national organization advocating for the rights of unaccompanied migrant and refugee children in the U.S.”

Unlike criminal court, undocumented immigrants do not have the right to counsel in immigration court. Therefore, KIND provides attorneys to unaccompanied migrant and refugee children. Franco and Jeffers discussed issues such as family separation, the remain-in-Mexico policy and the new asylum policies. Friday’s presentation came as an ongoing conversation about citizenship and documentation following this year’s Diversity Conference. 

Aside from the various workshops during the Diversity Conference, upper school watched the documentary “Documented,” which followed the journey of undocumented journalist Jose Antonio Vargas. “Documented” was filmed in 2014, and since then, immigration reform has changed. 

“With the film, it was a good background for someone who didn’t really know anything about citizenship at all,” senior and Student Diversity Conference Leadership team member Karis McCaskill said. “[The presentation] really gave light to what’s happening right now, the whole process and stuff we could do to help.” 

In previous years, some students questioned why Diversity Conference was only one day. According to history teacher and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resource Coordinator Elana Goldbaum, this year the team wanted to extend conversations about the Diversity Conference themes. 

“When we were thinking of a topic we decided we wanted to look into citizenship and documentation, we really felt an urge to do it right so we wanted to include as many perspectives and as many knowledgable voices as we could,” senior and Student Diversity Conference Leadership Team member Victoria Pinkett said. “We thought it was really important to have actual attorneys come and speak about their opportunities.” 

Veronica Jeffers, Managing Attorney at KIND, believes that working in the field of immigration has been an intellectual challenge because it is a field that is constantly changing. 

“In order to be an effective immigration attorney, I think you have to be sensitive to other cultures, to histories of other countries the current economic and political conditions,” Jeffers said. “All of that adds to and affects people who are coming, people who are staying and what they want to do and why they are here.” 

Goldbaum said that, while immigration is a current issue, not all schools discuss it at length. KIND speaks to schools all across Los Angeles, so for Goldbaum, their visit felt like “a natural fit.” 

“We are in Los Angeles, but in a lot of ways, it feels very removed to what I would call a crisis of asylum seekers: refugees from Mexico and Central America,” Goldbaum said. “Them being not only women but women of color in leadership made it that much more important.”