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Each year, thousands of kids and their families face the complexities of the legal system, often with life and death consequences. In 2014, the Center for Public Integrity told some of their stories.

This week we’re highlighting our major investigations from 2014 in handy, easy-to-read format. Don’t want to miss out? Sign up and receive them via email.

Today, we’re presenting the best investigations into how young people are treated by the U.S. legal system. From spouses of immigrants to kids caught skipping school, here are some of Center’s best juvenile justice stories from the past year:

1. U.S. spouses of immigrants face uncertain future

Nicole Salgado, like hundreds of thousands of other U.S. citizens married to undocumented immigrants, was shocked to find her husband had to spend at least 10 years outside of the U.S. before trying to get permanent residency. Salgado, her husband and 4-year old daughter, also an American citizen, live in Mexico while they wait to see if Obama’s executive action allows them to return to the U.S. as a family.
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The nuances that can make or break an asylum case are difficult for even trained lawyers to understand. Each year, thousands of children will have to make their case, often under life and death circumstances, without legal aid or counsel.Keep reading

Also, the roots of why kids are on the run.

Each year, thousands of minors face juvenile courts and possibly jail time for infractions like truancy or running away. Because these are technically not crimes, however, the youth have no constitutional right to the appointment of defense counsel.
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