"Whose child is this?" U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agents ask at our country's borders. For too many between the ages of 18 months and 17 years, the answer is: "Just now, no one's."
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is one of two agencies nationally that work with the federal government to resettle refugee children and child asylum-seekers.
Children may arrive alone for different reasons, according to LIRS. Some have come seeking parents already here, while others are orphans. Many are fleeing extreme circumstances in their home country: war, poverty and brutality, even torture.
Some are victims of trafficking; their bodies and labors are bought, sold and used. Some parents give money to smugglers to get the children to a better life in the United States when, in fact, the youth arrive only to be forced into prostitution. The mother of one 18-month-old sold her child to a drug operation to be used as a decoy, to be "recycled" from one side of the border to the other to make the smugglers appear less suspicious.
Through foster-care agencies nationwide, LIRS provides for unaccompanied minors, either directly upon arrival or following a period of asylum detention. For more information, call (410) 230-2700 or go to www.lirs.org. (See also, "Editor," page 58).
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers