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Numbers of Unaccompanied Children Are Lower this Summer, but Problems Remain

Numbers of Unaccompanied Children Are Lower this Summer, but Problems Remain

According to a recent report by the Migration Policy Institute, the number of unaccompanied children is supposed to drop from its recent spike in 2013 and 2014, from 68,000 last year to a projected 39,000 this year. Though the United States’ resources might not be as stretched in dealing with new entrants this year, many children are still having trouble getting the support they need to remain and sustain themselves in America.

Most urgently, Politico has found that many children lack access to a lawyer in refugee status proceedings. As one might imagine, when a child is forced to go through immigration proceedings in a wholly new, foreign place, having a lawyer often means the difference between being a refugee or a deportee: from July 2014 to April 2015, children without lawyers were ordered to be removed over 93% of the time. When children had a lawyer, that number fell to just 30%. Unfortunately, less than half of these migrant children had access to a lawyer.

In addition, there is concern about the treatment of migrant children and mothers as they wait for immigration court. Many groups have strongly condemned Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) use of family detention centers, and those condemnations led ICE to announce last month that there will be enhanced oversight at these detention centers.

As Jews, we remember the plight of Abram and Sarai, who were forced to leave the land of Canaan when a famine struck (Genesis 12:10). As refugees, they went to Egypt, and misrepresented Sarai’s relationship to Abram so that Abram would not be in harm’s way. Our first ancestors saw what it was like to be a refugee and treated with suspicion instead of compassion, how devastating such policies could be. As child migrants continue to be evaluated and incorporated into American society, we hope that the United States treats those seeking refuge with the compassion that Abram and Sarai only received by misrepresenting themselves.

To remain updated on unaccompanied children and immigration policy, check out the RAC’s immigration issue page, as well as the RACblog.

Published: 6/05/2015

Categories: Social Justice
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