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What You Need to Know About the Child Crisis at the Border and How to Help

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The safety and sanitary conditions of current child migrant detention centers are severely being placed into question, with alarm bells ringing. Here is how we can assist as believers.


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Around 13,000 migrant children are being held in holding facilities unaccompanied by their parents in the US. The goal is either reunification with their family of origin or having the children move into the foster care system in America. Unaccompanied minors apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security are transferred to the care of the Office of the Administration for Children and Families. The ORR has received over 32,000 referrals in 2019, which are 50% higher than their 2018 fiscal year numbers.

The family separation element was supposed to deter further immigrants from entering the U.S. To its opposite effect, the number of children traversing the border has surged. The fluctuation of children in these situations has varied from president to president, but detaining children apart from their parents has said to have increased.

The number of undocumented immigrants has fallen since the 2000’s but the number of unaccompanied minors has gone up. A rule of thumb is getting each child processed within 72 hours at the border. But the lack of resources and personnel have reported some facilities holding the children for weeks at a time.

The New York Times quotes, there are “children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met. Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.” The reported conditions for these children in holding have varied. but all seem to attest to the lack of proper hygienic resources. No deaths of children had been reported in a decade at the U.S Border, but four children have died in the last six months.

The detention centers are not accepting aid at this time, but if you would like to know more about helping with legal resources, check out these organizations.

  • RAICES is Texas’ largest nonprofit legal service, offers free legal services to immigrant families.
  • KIND—Kids in Need of Defense provides advocacy for detained children.
  • The Catholic Legal Immigration Network providing assistance and support for migrants.