Unaccompanied Children

Everyone is watching the heart breaking news of the increase in the number of unaccompanied children at our border. The Biden Administration just announced today that they were reopening a second facility to house these children.

I’ve listened to comments on both sides of the political and emotional spectrum; heartbreak for the families who are being separated with people wondering how they can help, and disgust from others who can’t fathom how someone can send their child alone. Here is what I want to share with you all…

First off, who are these children and why are they arriving on their own? Many are not alone when they show up at the border. They arrive with relatives other than their mother and father, and are separated and identified as “unaccompanied”. In many cases, these children are being raised by aunts, grandmothers, older siblings - but the current system in the US won’t recognize them as their legal guardians. Instead, we separate them and now find these children alone in detention centers with a lack of resources and sponsors to care for them. The solution to this problem seems clear.

Every Last One, an organization focused on advocating for these children, proposes three policy changes:

  1. Stop separating children from their aunts, uncles, grandparents, and siblings.

  2. When parents are already in the U.S. - allow them to come to the border and pick up their children.

  3. Release children quickly to their families in the U.S.

For those that are truly alone, many have been waiting in Mexico with their families for almost 2 years without any avenue to legally seek asylum. As these children near 18, their families are sending them over alone, knowing that they have a chance as a minor that won’t be there for them after their 18th birthday.

For those who are younger, they are here out of sheer desperation. If you are appalled that a parent could send their child alone, please sit with that for a moment. These families don’t love these children any less that you love yours. It is that deep, unconditional love that they are standing strong in and doing (what they hope) will be the absolute best thing for their child. Can you imagine being faced with this decision? My hope for you is that you never will be, and that as you read the news and listen to the stories being shared, you hold these families in a place of compassion. No-one makes this choice lightly. Need will always outweigh fear, and the needs of these families are severe.

I invite you to spend the day understanding that each story being shared is about an individual’s heart breaking journey to a better life for themselves and their families. The people I have encountered in the past week are lovely, happy, kind people. They deserve every freedom and right that we enjoy. They deserve our compassion and commitment to see them each as individuals with unique important stories.

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