Amigos Center immigration workers report a marked increase in telephone calls and walk-in visits of parents, friends and relatives of children who have crossed unlawfully into the United States at the Mexican border. As news media has reported with growing consternation, a record number of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are crossing the border. We are on track to receive 90,000 during this fiscal year compared to previous averages of 6,775. According to Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC):
“Children report migrating to the United States for a variety of reasons, including reuniting with family, economic opportunity, and fear of violence in their home countries. While there is no single cause for migration, Central American children are increasingly fleeing gang-related violence.” (https://cliniclegal.org/sites/default/files/attachments/unaccompanied_children_faq_7-31-14.pdf)
A legal recourse these children have is to go to court and be declared a ward of the state and so be granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Once they have the SIJS, Amigos Center would be in a position to help them file necessary immigration forms. However, the SIJS is a very intense process that is best handled by an attorney. As a result, Amigos Center has been referring these inquires to Ave Maria Law School, Legal Aid and non-profits in the Miami area that are listed on the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) website.