CFJC Out and About: Uzoamaka Nzlelibe on Unaccompanied Children and Asylum


CFJC attorney and clinical assistant professor Uzoamaka Nzelibe presented at the Immigration Law Professors Workshop at the University of California, Irvine School of Law on May 22, 2014. Uzoamaka’s presentation focused on the challenges inherent in representing children at the intersection of child welfare and immigration law.

On June 6, 2014, Uzoamaka taught a course on unaccompanied children and the asylum process at the Center for Forced Migration Studies Summer Institute at Northwestern University’s Buffet Center. Uzoamaka’s lecture was timely and provided some context for the current humanitarian crisis caused by the influx of unaccompanied children (UACs) across the southwest border of the U.S., which has dramatically risen 72 percent in the last two years.  Her June 2014 lecture covered detention and release of UACs, access to counsel for children in removal proceedings, and the types of immigration relief available to children.


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Ask An Advocate: Xavier McElrath-Bey

Xavier McElrath-Bey grew up in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. At the age of 13, he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Today, he is a 38-year-old public speaker and a youth justice advocate for the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth.  McElrath-Bey also served as a researcher with the Northwestern Juvenile Project, a federally-funded longitudinal study investigating the mental health needs of youth detained in the juvenile justice system. In April 2014, McElrath-Bey gave a well-received TEDx talk at Northwestern University called “No Child is Born Bad.” He has been interviewed by The New York Times, has written for The Huffington Post, and has been profiled in various publications as a role model for youth involved in the system. Today, he says of his situation, “Me, personally, I’m happy to be living a normal life.”

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McElrath-Bey and his daughter Sophia. Photo by Charan Ingram.


Restorative Justice Forum

On April 2, 2014, Aldermen Harry Osterman (48th Ward), Joe Moore (49th Ward),  James Cappleman (46th Ward), the Children and Family Justice Center, and multiple North Side community agencies hosted a Restorative Justice Forum. Over 150 community members and juvenile justice advocates attended the forum which was comprised of two panels: restorative justice practices in schools and neighborhoods. 

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Panelists discuss employing restorative justice practices in Chicago public high schools: 

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Letters from Community: Loved Ones of Juvenile Lifers

The first submission in a series.

My name is Anabel Perez and I would like to tell you a little about the life of a prisoner’s mother.  My son is currently serving life in prison.

I was born in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico. When I was nine years old, we moved to the South Side of Chicago. I had my first child at 16 years old, and was not able to finish high school. At the young age of 21, I already had my three sons. They’re not only handsome, but smart, clean, and can cook a meal, too.

My first devastating experience was when their dad passed away. My sons were only toddlers. I was left to be both Mom and Dad to my boys. Here I was, 21 years old, single, with three boys to take care of, not knowing how I would survive. Our lives were hard, and my boys grew up without a father figure.

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 Ms. Perez and J. in the hospital after giving birth.