Immigration Center Aids Undocumented Minors

By Gross, Judy | National Catholic Reporter, November 3, 2006 | Go to article overview

Immigration Center Aids Undocumented Minors


Gross, Judy, National Catholic Reporter


The immigration spotlight has focused most recently on adults trying to make it to the United States to find work, but the treatment of unaccompanied, undocumented children entering the country is a quiet, shameful secret, according to those working with immigrants.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (formerly INS) holds approximately 7,000 to 8,000 children, mostly teenagers, each year in detention centers for varying periods of time, according to Cheryl Little, director of Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center. About 1,000 are being held at any given time. Many others, say experts, are fending for themselves on the streets of U.S. cities.

According to the Women's Commission on Women and Children, a nongovernmental advocacy organization in Washington, many of the children have little or no English and little idea how to navigate the U.S. immigration system. Michelle Abarca, lead attorney for the Florida Immigration Advocacy Center's Children's Legal Project, said, "Nobody knows how many [unattended immigrant children] there are. They're undetected. For each one we see, there are many we don't."

Sr. Catherine Cassidy, an attorney, helped cofound the Florida Immigration Advocacy Center in 1996 with the support of her order, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, headquartered in Northeast Ohio. The organization provides pro bono legal counsel to undocumented minors who under U.S. law have no right to representation.

[GRAPHIC OMITTED]

At the time of the center's founding, federal funding for Legal Services Corporation agencies had been pulled and agencies were prevented from representing undocumented immigrants, said Cassidy.

Abarca has accumulated a lifetime of stories. Some have happy endings; some are more like nightmares. She recalls one terrified 6-year-old separated from the person charged to bring her into the country and the fight to get her released to a family member. Abarca has seen toddlers held in detention, even a 7-month-old baby abandoned by her mother. As tough a case as that was, the case she considers the most heart-wrenching was that of 15-year-old El Fredo. Horribly abused by his family in Haiti, caught entering the United States, he was handcuffed, shackled and sent to adult holding facilities from Key West, Fla., to Pennsylvania. El Fredo's crime? Seeking safe haven in the United States. Through the Florida Immigration Advocacy Center's concerted efforts, El Fredo was finally granted special juvenile immigrant status and eventually became a lawful resident.

Another case outlined in a center publication involved a youngster named Ernst who was arrested on his arrival at Miami International Airport in 2001, even though his mother and sisters were all legal permanent residents and his mother had obtained a family visa for Ernst. He was apprehended, taken to Miami's Boystown detention center without his mother's knowledge. By the time his mother found him, Ernst had been taken to a secure facility 1,200 miles away in Pennsylvania, where he was held with juvenile delinquents and subjected to regular strip searches. The Florida Immigration Advocacy Center was able to reunite Ernst and his family, but he continues to have nightmares about his confinement.

At the time of the center's founding, said Cassidy, "Florida had just had an exodus of Haitians as a result, of the 1991 coup d'etat ousting President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Immigration Center Aids Undocumented Minors
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.