Love Goes to Texas

September 7, 2012

Kristin Love is moving to Harlingen, Texas to open an office for the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. Harlingen is a city on the U.S./Mexico border, with the largest number of detained children anywhere in the United States. The cases originating in Harlingen often are highly complex, presenting issues of first impression and involving young children (under 12 years old), pregnant teens, and children with mental health issues. Students enrolled in the Young Center clinic will be assigned to Texas cases, and will be engaged in researching federal, international and comparative law. In the Spring of 2013, the Young Center will take a team of students to Harlingen to study border issues faced by unaccompanied immigrant children.

For the past three years, Young Center staff have commuted to Harlingen, overseeing the many cases in which the Young Center is appointed as Child Advocate for unaccompanied immigrant children detained there. This year there’s been an unprecedented influx of unaccompanied immigrant children coming to the United States. The federal government projects that more than 15,000 unaccompanied children will be taken into custody; last year, and in years past, the figure has been closer to 8,000 children per year. As a result of this influx of children, in the past year the number of children in custody in Harlingen has increased from 350 to over 700 children. Most of the children are coming from Central America: Honduras, Guatemala and Honduras. While no one knows exactly what has caused this influx, experts believe that the influx is due to an increase in violence and poverty resulting from rising crime, increased gang activity, state corruption and economic inequality.

The Young Center is thrilled that Kristin Love will be overseeing the first office in Harlingen. Kristin is a graduate of the University of Chicago College and Law School. After graduation, Kristin was awarded the prestigious Skadden Fellowship and spent the next two years working in Zacatecas, Mexico for the Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (Center for Migrant Rights). In 2011, Kristin returned to the United States to continue her work with the Center for Migrant Rights based in Baltimore—litigating a federal case against construction subcontractors, filing discrimination and wage complaints on behalf of migrant workers, and submitting comments for notice-and-comment rulemaking at the federal level.