Product Management | Design | Social Impact | Research

Thesis Blog

This blog tells the story of how Evan Wu, Sharon De La Cruz, and I researched, developed, and redesigned how unaccompanied immigrant teens access crucial information in navigating the immigration system. 


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Miami visit

It's spring break and also my good friend's birthday was this last weekend, so I decided to make a trip down to Miami for the birthday girl and some thesis research. I took a day to visit American's for Immigrant Justice, an NGO I worked at between 2007 and 2010 and an important legal service provider to unaccompanied children in South Florida. I had a few assumptions I wanted to prove/disprove, so I asked if I could interview some of the staff that work closely with the kids. 



  • Most clients have smart phones. Including the kids (teens).
  • Low-income families have phones, but maybe just one and it's shared.
  • Clients' phones get cut off often. They can't pay bills. Numbers change regularly.
  • Methods of communication: WhatsApp + sms. Very few email.
  • FB: The kids have Facebook. 
  • Illiterate clients are also using smart phones. One story: kid sends the attorney a picture of a letter that came in the mail for him because he can't read it.
  • Same attorney as above: "Rural Guatemalan's with no light have phones. Sending important docs through Whatsapp." 


  • Almost every kid is going to court. It's drilled into them. (question: what happened to the very few that don't go to the first hearing? lost the notice? forgot?)
  • Some legal orgs are giving KYRs at court prior to the kids hearing. They're there to help as friend of court, but not formally represent the child. 
  • Kids often hear about legal services at court. They get a flyer about AIJ there. Or they meet the attorney there for the first time, which sometimes leads to a referral.


ALLIES / COMMUNITY - Other channels to share the site with kids

  • Churches
  • Community centers
  • Schools (in S. Florida the schools, social workers at school, teachers are really concerned about getting the kids help. They are allies).
  • ORR shelter – partnering with caseworkers at shelters
  • Partnering with judges



  • Creating materials that kids find value in. (my assumption: kids will not through away documents they find value in)