This post was written by Liana Montecinos. Thirsty, hungry, at the brink of exhaustion, and with fear of violent deaths looming large back home is how many Central American children cross into the U.S. I know this because I have the privilege to work with child refugees in my capacity as paralegal at Benach Collopy and previously as a legal assistant at CAIR Coalition. But, I also know this because, like the children I work with now, I fled my native Honduras at 11 and I also crossed through Guatemala and Mexico via foot.
Writing in today’s Leadership Blog from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Dree Collopy explains the fundamentals of asylum law the critics, journalists, and politicians fail to understand: Any refusal to recognize gender-motivated violence such as rape and domestic violence as persecution worthy of protection under the Immigration and Nationality Act and the U.N. Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees reflects a complete lack of understanding of women’s relationship to the state and their own governments’ failure to provide adequate protection.
This blog post was written by FOBR Michelle Mendez, Senior Managing Attorney at Immigrant Legal Service of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. On April 8, 2014, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law Chapter 96, which, through a small, technical fix that closes a gap between state and federal law, expands the jurisdiction of an equity court to include custody or guardianship of an immigrant child pursuant to a motion for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) factual findings.
Olsi Vrapi is a Friend of Benach Collopy who practices in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He recently found himself on the front line of the battle of how to handle the major influx of refugee children at the Southern Border. In this chilling blogpost entitled “The Artesia Experience,” Olsi describes his experience visiting his client in the new facility in Artesia, New Mexico where the government is detaining Central American children and families.
We have had lots to say about the children seeking refuge in the United States. Yet, once again, our poor power to add or detract has become apparent in light of this brilliant piece by Friend of Benach Collopy (FOBR) Heidi Altman, Legal Director of the Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition. The CAIR Coalition has been providing legal services to unaccompanied children in Virginia for several years and the fierce and lovely staff there knows all too well the motivations that drive children to leave their homes in Central America.