Tragic images of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are flooding the airwaves, begging a humanitarian response, as well as hard questions. Why are these children coming here? Why now and why in such large numbers?
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, approximately 57,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed into the United States since the 2014 fiscal year began in October—twice the number apprehended in 2013 and three times the 2011 total.
A recent Catholic News Service article discusses ways that people can assist migrants fleeing to the United States for refuge. Among the options is assistance with legal representation and CLINIC’s webinar on what the Church is doing to assist migrant children is mentioned as a key resource.
Published in the Arkansas Catholic. July 24, 2014
Like most of us these days, we are all faced with how to respond in a pastoral way to the humanitarian challenges in front of us with unaccompanied minors coming into our country. I recently visited with a number of these young people with some of our staff members of the Diocesan Pastoral Center here in Orange.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) allows undocumented minors who have suffered abandonment, neglect, or abuse by a parent to become lawful permanent residents. To qualify, the child must have an order from a juvenile court demonstrating that he or she is dependent on the state and cannot be safely reunited with parents. Federal law allows children under the age of 21 to qualify, but many potential beneficiaries between the ages of 18 and 21 are left out. Their state courts only have jurisdiction over children younger than 18, so they cannot obtain the necessary court order to app