The increased separation of immigrant families crossing the border into the United States is alarming and deeply troubling. On May 4, 2018 the Department of Homeland Security stated that it would refer all immigrants who cross the border into the United States without authorization for criminal prosecution. The impact of this directive was that an increasing number of families were separated as adult parents were sent to the custody of U.S. Marshals for criminal prosecution and children were housed in shelters.
It is important to know that this new policy did not allow for exceptions for families arriving to the United States and willingly turning themselves into Customs and Border Protection seeking protection. Catholic Charities Atlanta shares the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops call to protect immigrant children and families seeking safety and shelter from violence by keeping these families together. Unnecessarily separating families is detrimental to basic child welfare principles, contrary to our Catholic values, and ineffective to the goals of deterrence and safety.
Due to international pressure, the Administration recently took steps to stop this practice of separating children and parents. Judge Dana Sabraw issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday, June 26th, stating that all currently separated children (over 2,000) have to be reunited with their parents in 30 days. We hope that the Administration will quickly and efficiently reunite parents with their children.
How You Can Help
Catholic Charities Atlanta does not have opportunities to foster the children separated at the border as there currently is not a foster care program for unaccompanied immigrant children in Georgia. However, we do serve unaccompanied children who have been released from the shelters to other family members and friends who live in Georgia. We also serve children who arrived without their parents, who were apprehended at the border, and who were then placed with family members or friends while they are in immigration removal proceedings. Although the conditions of arrival are different, the process for handling both groups of children is the same once they are deemed unaccompanied.
While we do not have foster care opportunities, the children and families we serve are in need of clothing, food, school supplies, and basic household items. The families caring for the children are often living within tight budgets, and any additional support is a help to them. Please see list below of items needed to support these families. (Contact Kim Longshore at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have items to donate.)
- Gift cards for food, clothing and household items. Preferable stores: Wal-Mart, Kroger, Target
- New socks for children ages 5-16
- New underwear for children sizes 8-16 (more need for larger sizes)
- Diapers size 6
- Khaki or navy pants sizes Child 10-16; Adult women 0-4; and Adult men 28×28 and 28×30
- White polo shirts children’s S-XL and adult XS-M
- Spanish-English Dictionaries (picture dictionaries are very helpful)
- Book Bags and school supplies for high schoolers
- Donate $100 to cover a consultation fee for Catholic Charities Atlanta’s Legal Immigration Services for a child to consult with an attorney on his/her legal case
In addition to donations, we encourage you to contact your representatives and senators ask them to value and protect families.
If you would like to support the immigration legal work of Catholic Charities Atlanta, please click on the Donate Now button on our website.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory’s Response to Separation of Families at the Border
“The recent immigration policy that has separated children from their parents is deeply disturbing. The administration’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy resulted in many children being torn from the arms of their parents and placed in separate detention facilities where many remain. Unnecessarily separating families is detrimental to basic child welfare, contrary to our Catholic values, and ineffective as a means of deterrence and safety. In response to widespread backlash, the President recently signed an executive order which takes a limited step in stopping the practice of separating children from their parents. My hope is that the administration will proceed, as ordered by a federal court, to reunite all children and parents who have been separated.
I urge the administration and Congress to pass real immigration reform that respects the dignity of every person and supports family life. Family unity, a foundational element of Catholic social teaching, must be preserved at all costs. I enthusiastically support the work of our Catholic Charities Atlanta on this issue. I join Pope Francis and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in advocating for the protection of children and families seeking safety and shelter from violence and I pray for every family affected by these policies.”