Advocates Urge Governor Newsom to Restore Program for Unaccompanied Youth


CONTACT: Madison Allman |

[SACRAMENTO, CA] — A coalition of legal service providers and advocates call on Governor Newsom to reverse course on his decision to end the Children’s Holistic Immigration Representation Project (CHIRP), a first of its kind statewide initiative that provides legal representation and social work support to hundreds of unaccompanied immigrant children in California.

The Governor indicated in his May revision that he intends to end the program, despite the successful launch of the initiative as a two-year pilot project funded by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). Hundreds of children are now at risk of losing their legal representation. Advocates have been campaigning for an extension of the program, which they note requires a modest 17.8 million dollar investment and can ultimately save the state considerable cost in future expenditures for a population with specific needs.

“The decision to terminate a program for one of the most vulnerable segments of our society is devastating, particularly for children who have been through so much hardship. This decision sends the wrong message and does not represent the values that California is known to uphold. It is disappointing and troubling that the Governor would backtrack on his commitment to migrant children after demonstrating leadership in the face of so much uncertainty from the federal government. The CHIRP program has been a lifeline for a small number of unaccompanied children seeking safety and stability in California, who are now at risk of losing their only advocates. Amid reports across the country of migrant children being exploited because they lack a support system that ensures their emotional and physical safety and stability, this type of program is needed now more than ever,” said Shaina Aber, Executive Director, Acacia Center for Justice.  

Background on CHIRP 

Unaccompanied children often experience layers of significant hardships that can begin with exposure to trauma in early childhood and extend to challenges experienced while transitioning into California communities, such as securing stable housing, accessing education services, and medical and mental health treatment, all while navigating the complex immigration system.

CHIRP provides holistic legal advocacy for unaccompanied children, from  a trauma-informed approach to ensure that unaccompanied minors have both legal services and appropriate social services that can help improve their overall well-being and promote healthy youth development. The program is offered by 16 legal services organizations and has provided representation and holistic community-based support to more than 600 children in the state, many of whom are at risk of losing representation as a result of this decision. 

For more information about CHIRP visit: 


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About Acacia Center for Justice

Acacia Center for Justice delivers and advocates for meaningful and effective access to justice and freedom for immigrants at risk of detention or deportation in partnership with an accountable, independent nationwide network of immigrant legal service providers and community partners. Acacia Center for Justice’s reach and impact are unparalleled. The national nonprofit currently operates seven federally funded programs and one state funded program through a network of nearly 60 legal service providers located in over 80 offices across the country.