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 805-399-1000
and enter access code 104402
* 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
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.
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. 107-296 §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
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
– 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
Faith-Based Talking Points about
• Protect most vulnerable and welcome the
• 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
UAC = Children in Need of Protection
UAC U.S. Challenge = urgent humanitarian situation
UAC Regional Challenge = A foreign policy, regional protection
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
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.
Recommendations: Respond to humanitarian
situation in the US
• Develop and enforce humane standards for all short-term CBP holding
• 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.
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
• 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 antitrafficking systems in Mexico.
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
• Invest in community-based comprehensive youth violence prevention
• 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Go to http://tiny.cc/ProtectKids or call 1-866-940-2439
"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 http://tiny.cc/ProtectKids
Ex: . @SpeakerBoehner As a person of faith I urge you to oppose changes to the TVPRA that
would return children to unsafe situations #iamsolo #theyarechildren #uacs
Follow @InterfaithImm on Twitter & "like" Interfaith Immigration Coalition on Facebook.18
Building the Welcome Where
Unaccompanied Children are Being Held
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
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 18-20
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.
UNHCR: Children on the Run: Unaccompanied Children Leaving Central America and Mexico and
the Need for International Protection: www.unhcrwashington.org/children/reports
USCCB Mission to Central America: Flight of the Unaccompanied Immigrant Children to the United
States: www.usccb.org/about/migration-policy/upload/Mission-To-Central-America-FINAL-2.pdf
KIND (Kids in Need of Defense) and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies: A Treacherous Journey:
Child Migrants Navigating the U.S. Immigration System,: www.supportkind.org/en/aboutus/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:
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
Collection of Statements on Obama's Letter/ Speech:
People of Faith Groundswell Petition
IIC Contacts by organization
• African American Ministers in Action:
Leslie Malachi, [email protected]
• American Baptist Home Mission
Societies of the American Baptist
Churches, USA:
Aundreia Alexander,
[email protected]
• American Friends Service
Committee: Lia Lindsey,
[email protected]
• American Jewish Committee:
Chelsea Hanson, [email protected]
• Bread for the World Institute: Andrew •
Wainer, [email protected]
• Church World Service: Jen Smyers, •
[email protected]
• Columban Center for Advocacy and
Outreach: Chloe Schwabe,
[email protected]
• Conference of Major Superiors of
Men: Eli McCarthy
[email protected]
• Daughters of Charity: Mary Ellen
Lacey, [email protected]
• Disciples of Christ: Sharon Stanley- •
Rea, [email protected]
• Episcopal Church: Katie Conway,
[email protected]
• Franciscan Action Network: Marie
Lucey, [email protected]
• Friends Committee on National
Legislation: Ruth Flower,
[email protected]
HIAS: Liza Lieberman,
[email protected]
Interfaith Worker Justice: Michael
Livingston, [email protected]
Irish Apostolate USA: Geri Garvey,
[email protected]
Islamic Information Center: Hajar
[email protected] •
Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Mary
Small, [email protected]
Jewish Council for Public Affairs:
Elyssa Koidin, [email protected]
Leadership Conference of Women
Religious: Ann Scholz, SSND
[email protected]
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee
Service: Nora Skelly, [email protected] •
Maryknoll Office for Global
Concerns: Judy Coode,
[email protected]
Mennonite Central Committee:
Tammy Alexander, [email protected]
Muslim Public Affairs Council: Hoda •
Elshishtawy, [email protected]
Sisters of the Good Shepherd: Larry •
Couch, [email protected]
NETWORK: Ashley Wilson,
[email protected]
Pax Christi: Scott Wright,
[email protected]
PICO: Dan Gordon,
[email protected]
Presbyterian Church, USA: Melissa
Gee, [email protected]
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas:
Ryan Murphy,
[email protected]
Sojourners: Ivone Guillen,
[email protected]
3P Human Security: Tom Brenneman,
[email protected]
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human
Rights, Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster
[email protected]
Union for Reform Judaism: Sarah
Krinsky, [email protected]
Unitarian Universalist Association:
Jen Toth, [email protected]
United Church of Christ: Rev. Mari
Castellanos, [email protected]
United Methodist Church: Bill Mefford,
[email protected]
UNITED SIHKS: Harpreet Singh,
[email protected]
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Kevin Appleby, [email protected]
U.S. Jesuit Conference, Shaina Aber,
[email protected]
World Relief: Jenny Yang,
[email protected]

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