There are currently 13,200 children in custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is more than ever before, and the average stay has doubled from that of two years ago. (The official Health and Human Services number is 54 days, but officials have anonymously reported that the number is closer to 74.) The amount of children arriving has not increased, but the roadblocks to processing and releasing them has. In April, ORR signed an agreement to release the immigration status of the children’s sponsors.
A government report from September lays out how the “zero-tolerance” policy, which began on April 6, 2018, overwhelmed the US immigration systems. The report acknowledges that border officials illegally detained children for long periods of time in short-term facilities, misled parents with misinformation, and failed to keep effective records.
The Florence Project recently released a video update of their work supporting the approximately 50 children who remain separated from their parents in Arizona. Most of the children’s parents have been deported so there are limited options for reunification. The Florence Project is working to allow these children to be released to other family members in the US when possible. Importantly, whatever outcome is in store for any individual child, The Florence Project is working to reduce the trauma of this process as much as possible.
Since Memorial Day, KIND has launched the Central America Family Reunification and Reintegration Initiative, which helps parents deported without their children to locate them. The effort also provides legal, social, and psychosocial services; represents more than 100 separated children in deportation proceedings; and deploys to the Texas border to conduct intakes and provide guidance to hundreds of parents and caretakers separated from their children and held in detention.
The border crisis is complex, heartbreaking, unethical, and will not be resolved any time soon. FBB is proud to support The Florence Project and KIND as they provide assistance and relief to these children and families.