The Obama administration announced a program late last week that would provide attorneys for the young illegal immigrant children crossing in waves over the U.S.-Mexico border, saying they want to make sure the unaccompanied minors are getting fair legal representation.

The joint project between the Justice Department and AmeriCorps, the government’s national service organization, aims to recruit 100 lawyers and paralegals to shepherd the children through the immigration system, making sure they are treated properly and can make claims for legal status or protection if they are eligible.

“We’re taking a historic step to strengthen our justice system and protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement announcing the plan.

“How we treat those in need, particularly young people who must appear in immigration proceedings — many of whom are fleeing violence, persecution, abuse or trafficking — goes to the core of who we are as a nation,” he said.

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