USCRI: U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

The First Ladies of Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala Address USCRI’s Washington, D.C. Conference on Unaccompanied Migrant Children, “On Their Own”,  April 24th

USCRI held a three-day conference in Washington, D.C. in April to discuss the serious crisis of unaccompanied migrant children. Three First Ladies from Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala attended and spoke to more than 200 experts, practitioners, and policy makers. The meeting occurred as the problem of unaccompanied migrant children who make the long trek from Central America to the U.S. southern border is worsening, as reported in many U.S. media.

“Somewhere, at this very moment, a child is deciding to leave their home and travel north.  He or she has made this decision because staying where they are is no longer a possibility.  She may be driven by the need to reunite with a parent living for many years in the United States, or to escape violence, abuse or neglect at home.  He may be driven by the need to escape violence, abuse or neglect in the community.  They may be driven by a desire to work and help their family or a desire to no longer be a burden on their hard working family.  Whatever the reasons, they hold on to a hope for a better future which is a testimony to the human spirit which lives in all of us,” said Lavinia Limón. “We must make sure that all of our laws, policies and behaviors honor these children’s humanity. We must have respect for them and ensure that their contact with us and our institutions leaves them with more rather than less.”

Every year thousands of children, alone, vulnerable, and fleeing difficult and dangerous circumstances, turn up on U.S. borders. The migrant children most often are from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico.

USCRI's program was established in 2005 with a grant from actress Angelina Jolie to protect the rights of immigrant children. The national program has grown to provide human trafficking services, migration prevention programs, and social work assistance. The Center has served more than 5,000 children in the U.S., and trained thousands of attorneys across the United States to represent unaccompanied migrant children in removal proceedings.

Through its partnership with the Oscar-nominated film “Which Way Home”, USCRI provides migration prevention training programs throughout Mexico and Central America. We also meet the social needs of some migrant children thanks to the assistance of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement.

According the news reports, the number of unaccompanied children has risen dramatically in the past six months, even as overall detentions of undocumented migrants declined. U.S. Health and Human Services has taken in 7,000 to 8,000 undocumented children annually over the past three years, but has cared for more than 7,000 youngsters since October, and seen a jump of 77 percent in the first three months of 2012.

Read more about USCRI's National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children >>

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