Presentation on theme: "Interfaithimmigration.org Welcome to the IIC Webinar on July 14, 2014 Faithful Response to Unaccompanied Children Call and Webinar will begin at 4:00 p.m."— Presentation transcript:
interfaithimmigration.org Welcome to the IIC Webinar on July 14, 2014 Faithful Response to Unaccompanied Children Call and Webinar will begin at 4:00 p.m. EST For audio, please dial and enter access code * The audio and visual portions are NOT linked. You must dial this number to hear the audio portion of the webinar.
4:00 Welcome, Introductions, Overview 4:05 Who are Unaccompanied Children: An Update from Texas Sister Mary Ellen Lacy, Daughters of Charity 4:15 Background on Unaccompanied Children & Services Provided Nora Skelly, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service 4:25 Root Causes: The Violence that Unaccompanied Children are Fleeing Shaina Aber, Jesuit Refugee Service 4:35 Action needed: Oppose Rollbacks to TVPRA & Support Refugee Funding Jen Smyers, Church World Service 4:45 Q &A AGENDA
Update from TX Respite tents for children and families awaiting relatives and buses after DHS drops them off at a bus stop with notices of court dates. 3
Unaccompanied Children Unaccompanied alien children (UACs) are undocumented children under the age of 18 who come to the United States without a parent or guardian Defined in law in the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Pub. L §462(g), 116 Stat. 2135, 2205 (2002): a person who ‘(A) has no lawful status in the US, (B) has not attained 18 years of age, (C) with respect to whom- (i) there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States; or (ii) no parent or legal guardian in the United States is available to provide care and physical custody.
Recent Trends in Unaccompanied Children Number of UACs Arriving is Increasing in U.S. and Central America – From 2004 to 2011, the number of arriving unaccompanied children to the US averaged between 7,000 and 8,000 annually. – In FY 2012, the number of unaccompanied children taken into US custody jumped to over 13,000 children. – In FY 2013, the number reached over 24,000 and the current projection for FY 2014 is over the earlier estimate of 90,000 children coming to the U.S. – Asylum requests by Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans seeking refuge in the neighboring countries of Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize have increased by 712 percent since 2009, – Even more people are fleeing to safe havens within their own countries. UAC Population is Changing – More Girls – Younger Children Arriving – More Victims of Trauma 5
Legal Relief Available to Children Asylum/Withholding of Removal – Affirmative and defensive process – Allows for green card after one year and naturalization after five T Visa – Victims of “a severe form of trafficking in persons.” – Allows work authorization and application for green card after three years. U Visa – Provide immigration relief to crime victims who are willing to help law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of crimes against them. – Perpetrator does not have to be convicted – Requires law enforcement or prosecutorial certification (makes this difficult in certain jurisdictions) – Allows work authorization and application for green card after three years VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) Protection – Provides protection for those with abusive spouses using immigration status as coercion. SIJS (Special Immigrant Juvenile Status) – For those under 18 with one or no parents available to take care of them who have been neglected, abused or abandoned 6
7 Protect most vulnerable and welcome the stranger Respect the dignity and humanity of these children- understand the danger and trauma of their migration journey and that this is in large part a forced migration Examine Root Causes in Home, Transit and Destination Countries of why these children are coming and why they are at risk Support families trying to protect their children Faith-Based Talking Points about UAC
Messaging 8 UAC = Children in Need of Protection UAC U.S. Challenge = urgent humanitarian situation UAC Regional Challenge = A foreign policy, regional protection challenge UAC Solution = A regional, holistic approach by U.S. & all countries in region Rise in UACs = International Protection Issue Rise in UACs = Distinct from Immigration Reform; fixing Immigration Reform does not fix this issue
More background on root causes 2005 Organized Crime gains a foothold 2009 – coup destabilizes institutions in HN 9
From Where are the Unaccompanied Children Coming and Why? Overview of International Protection Concerns The majority of children are coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras (some Mexican children are arriving- but they are treated differently by law) There are no simple answers to why. They come for a variety of reasons but increasingly they are fleeing life threatening violence in their home countries: The factors that caused lower levels of child migration before the spike are still present, including the lack of educational and economic opportunity, the negative push of family breakdown in their home countries, or the positive draw of Family Unity with family members living in the United States One Overriding factor has played a decisive and forceful role in the spike: pervasive violence with impunity communities- whether it be gang-related, local bad actors, transnational criminals, death squads targeting kids or larger problems of citizen insecurity at the governmental level
This heartbreaking story, shared by a partner of a Jesuit social center in Honduras is one of many that shows why these children need access to protection: After “Leticia” was raped by over a dozen gang members, she and her family reported the crime to the police. They immediately began to receive death threats. In the absence of any protection, and likely complicity by police in the gang’s terror campaign, the local partner attempted to relocate Leticia to a women’s shelter. The shelter refused to take the case because of fear that they would not be able to protect either Leticia or their other beneficiaries from the gang. In the end to protect Leticia from further harm, she had to be sent to another country. 11
Recommendations: Respond to humanitarian situation in the US Develop and enforce humane standards for all short-term CBP holding facilities. Improve oversight of the asylum and trafficking screening processes. Evaluate and update understandings of “particular social group” and agent of persecution in light of modern day realities. Use community-based alternatives to detention for all children and families and ensure that vulnerable children are placed in appropriate settings reflecting their needs. Provide legal representation to all children and in-person Legal Orientation Programs (LOP) to all apprehended migrants. Increase funding for the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR). Ensure individualized determinations for all individuals seeking humanitarian relief. Monitor the safety and well-being of all unaccompanied children—both those who remain in the United States and those who have been returned to their home countries. 12
Recommendations: Strengthen regional protection system for children and migrants Support well-trained, well-resourced and accountable child protection systems. Increase financial support for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the region. Support UNHCR in establishing refugee resettlement and anti-trafficking processing in Central American and Mexico. Work with other international donors to open an office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras. Strengthen the asylum, humanitarian visa and anti- trafficking systems in Mexico. 13
Recommendations: Reduce impunity and violence & strengthen the rule of law Provide resources and technical assistance for shelters for girls and women victims of violence and strengthen and expand States’ and localities’ capacity to respond to and sanction violence against women and girls. Provide support and assistance to crime victim and witness protection systems. Invest in community-based comprehensive youth violence prevention strategies. Continue to strictly condition assistance to police and military in Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico on compliance with basic human rights standards. Do not support “mano dura” policies that place youth at risk without effectively reducing violence. Ensure that future assistance to the National Institute of Migration (INM) in Mexico prioritizes support for institutional reforms. Provide resources for successful reinsertion and reentry of ex-offenders. 14
Recommendations: Support sustainable economic development Expand successful migrant reintegration programs to help stabilize communities and prevent unnecessary repeat migration. Invest substantially and over a sustained period in job training and job creation programs targeted at urban youth, particularly from areas of high violence. Invest substantially and over a sustained period in small-scale agriculture, including marketing and technical assistance, to improve the ability of rural communities to provide livelihoods for their citizens. Evaluate all US-funded development projects for migration impact to ensure that US programming does not unintentionally undermine social cohesion, family structure or existing livelihoods, thus catalyzing migration. 15
Recommendations: Increase Funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement ORR has addressed its budget shortfall by reprogramming $94 million from refugee services to serve these children. Refugee services are already underfunded, and these cuts are having devastating consequences for refugees and the communities that welcome them. The Obama Administration has requested that Congress enact a $3.7 billion Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill: $1.83 billion for ORR; $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement; $433 million for Customs and Border Protection; $300 for the State Department; $64 million for the Department of Justice. Congress should increase funds for ORR promptly to stop devastating cuts to refugee services and prevent any future reprogramming or reductions of these critical services. Congress should provide more funds in the supplemental to increase legal services for unaccompanied children in the United States and enhance programs to reduce violence in sending countries and create safer alternatives so that individuals, particularly children and families, are not forced to undertake dangerous journeys in the first place. 16
Demand Congress REJECT Rollbacks to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act Proposals to "deport children more quickly" would return unaccompanied children to exploitation, trafficking and unsafe situations 17 Both President Obama and some Members of Congress are proposing changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). The TVPRA was passed with broad bipartisan support and signed into law by President Bush in 2008, in part to reduce the likelihood that the U.S. would deport children back into the hands of traffickers and other dangerous situations. Changes to the TVPRA would mean that children would not have a meaningful opportunity to have their story heard, and would likely be deported to unsafe situations. Congress should not rescind this bipartisan law just because more children are in need of these protections. The U.S. must show leadership by finding ways to reduce the violence these children face in their home countries, rather than immoral proposals to deport them more quickly.
TAKE ACTION: CALL CONGRESS TODAY & SPREAD THE WORD 18 Go to or call http://tiny.cc/ProtectKids "I'm from State, Congregation/Community and as a person of faith, I strongly oppose any rollbacks to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Unaccompanied children fleeing violence should not be returned to unsafe situations. As your constituent, I expect you to stand firm against any proposal that would sacrifice a child's safety for expediency. The U.S. must instead find ways to reduce the violence these children face in their home countries, and ensure that children who arrive to the U.S. have access to the legal counsel and services they need.” Find your Representative and Senators' Twitter Handles at As a person of faith I urge you to oppose changes to the TVPRA that would return children to unsafe situations #iamsolo #theyarechildren on Twitter & "like" Interfaith Immigration Coalition on Immigration Coalition
Building the Welcome Where Unaccompanied Children are Being Held 19 If you are located near a holding facility work together with local congregations and organizations to build a welcoming environment through the following actions: Visit the facility with Clergy/ Bishops to assess conditions. Hold a press conference or demonstration with faith leaders providing moral support and faithful welcome to children Write Opinion Editorial and Letters to the Editor in Support of the Children Collect basic goods like blankets, clothing and food for the children. Make sure to publicize the collections as a testimony of welcome by alerting the press of the delivery
Rally in Support of Unaccompanied Children, Oxnard CA 20 Left to Right: Bishop Mendez (Southern Baptist), Bishop Carcano (United Methodist Church), Bishop Bruno (Episcopal Church)
Interfaith Weekend of Compassion and Prayer for Unaccompanied Children, July United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcano is leading a call to compassion this weekend, including worship guides and resources for letter-writing campaigns for Sunday School classes, coffee hours, Vacation Bible Schools, and parishioners. We urge you to call your Members of Congress around this weekend. You can submit your own letter, drawing, or photo to a child showing that you are holding them in prayer on the website.
22 UNHCR: Children on the Run: Unaccompanied Children Leaving Central America and Mexico and the Need for International Protection: USCCB Mission to Central America: Flight of the Unaccompanied Immigrant Children to the United States: KIND (Kids in Need of Defense) and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies: A Treacherous Journey: Child Migrants Navigating the U.S. Immigration System,: us/resourceswww.supportkind.org/en/about- us/resources Women’s Refugee Commission: Forced From Home, The Lost Boys and Girls of Central America: Vera Institute of Justice, Center on Immigration and Justice: The Flow of Unaccompanied Children Through the Immigration System A Resource for Practitioners, Policy Makers, and Researchers: through-the-immigration-system.pdf through-the-immigration-system.pdf Reports
Resources 23 Refugee Council USA, Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC), available at HHS, Office of Refugee Resettlement, About Unaccompanied Children’s Services: Interfaith Immigration Coalition Collection of Resources resources/ Collection of Statements on Obama's Letter/ Speech: announcements/ announcements/ People of Faith Groundswell Petition unaccompanied-children-in-immigration-detention unaccompanied-children-in-immigration-detention
IIC Contacts by organization African American Ministers in Action: Leslie Malachi, American Baptist Home Mission Societies of the American Baptist Churches, USA: Aundreia Alexander, American Friends Service Committee: Lia Lindsey, American Jewish Committee: Chelsea Hanson, Bread for the World Institute: Andrew Wainer, Church World Service: Jen Smyers, Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach: Chloe Schwabe, Conference of Major Superiors of Men: Eli McCarthy Daughters of Charity: Mary Ellen Lacey, Disciples of Christ: Sharon Stanley- Rea, Episcopal Church: Katie Conway, Franciscan Action Network: Marie Lucey, Friends Committee on National Legislation: Ruth Flower, HIAS: Liza Lieberman, Interfaith Worker Justice: Michael Livingston, Irish Apostolate USA: Geri Garvey, Islamic Information Center: Hajar Hosseini, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Mary Small, Jewish Council for Public Affairs: Elyssa Koidin, Leadership Conference of Women Religious: Ann Scholz, SSND Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: Nora Skelly, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns: Judy Coode, Mennonite Central Committee: Tammy Alexander, Muslim Public Affairs Council: Hoda Elshishtawy, Sisters of the Good Shepherd: Larry Couch, NETWORK: Ashley Wilson, Pax Christi: Scott Wright, PICO: Dan Gordon, Presbyterian Church, USA: Melissa Gee, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas: Ryan Murphy, Sojourners: Ivone Guillen, 3P Human Security: Tom Brenneman, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster Union for Reform Judaism: Sarah Krinsky, Unitarian Universalist Association: Jen Toth, United Church of Christ: Rev. Mari Castellanos, United Methodist Church: Bill Mefford, UNITED SIHKS: Harpreet Singh, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Kevin Appleby, U.S. Jesuit Conference, Shaina Aber, World Relief: Jenny Yang,