USCRI: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

Leaders Gather to Address the Plight of Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth

March 27, 2013

MIAMI, FL – The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) and the University of Miami hosted the former First Lady of Mexico, Mrs. Margarita Zavala, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, President of the University of Miami, Donna Shalala, and filmmaker Rebecca Cammisa for “Children Migrating All Alone” this past weekend. Attendees of the event watched clips from the Academy Award® nominated documentary Which Way Home and participated in a discussion with leaders and advocates who are addressing the plight of unaccompanied immigrant children.

An outspoken advocate for youth who make the dangerous trek to the United States without parents, former First Lady of Mexico, Mrs. Margarita Zavala, emphasized, “We have to look at migration issues through the eyes of the children."

Last year over 14,000 unaccompanied immigrant children arrived at the US border and 20,000 are expected this year. Alone and afraid, yet hopeful, these children are apprehended by the US Border Patrol and placed in federal detention. Crossing the border without a parent or legal guardian is dangerous; many immigrant children confront trafficking, hunger, injury, and unthinkable violence during their journeys. Fleeing domestic abuse, gang violence, and extreme poverty they arrive without knowledge or resources. Some hope to find family members and all hope to find opportunities which are out-of-reach in their home countries. Ultimately, many are deported—without basic legal representation—to the same conditions they fled.

Putting the issue into larger context, USCRI’s President and CEO, Lavinia Limon, remarked, “Unaccompanied migrant children are extremely vulnerable and their numbers here in the United States are growing. We must protect these children. Any immigration reform bill should include provisions for access to legal counsel, the protection of family unity, and continuing care for more of these children.”

USCRI protects immigrant children who arrive in the United States without parents or resources and ensures that these children receive legal, social, and health services. For more information about USCRI programs and services, please visit www.refugees.org.

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Tweet this: Former First Lady of Mexico @Mzavalagc; @RosLehtinen; @UnivMiami join USCRI to discuss unaccompanied immigrant kids http://bit.ly/ZaC0WV

Media Contacts

USCRI: Jenelle Eli, 703-310-1166, jeli[at]uscridc.org
University of Miami: Marie Guma Diaz, 305-284-5500, Marie.Guma.Diaz[at]gmail.com

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