The moral outrage of separating immigrant children from their families, and the federal government's unforgivable inattention to keeping unaccompanied children safe, has an impact right here in Connecticut. It's a call to action for all of us.
The news that the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) lost nearly 1,500 unaccompanied migrant children is horrific - especially because a new policy of separating children from their families means many more young people will come into ORR's custody.
But ORR can't respond by simply allowing children to sit for longer and longer in shelters and interim facilities before placement with families. We can already see the implications of that practice right here CT.
Quick poll: Do you know that there's a shelter for unaccompanied immigrant minors in Connecticut?
CLS' lawyers visit that shelter twice a month. We provide know-your-rights training for every child in custody. We interview them so that we can understand how we can help them stay safe and exercise their rights in immigration court.
But, over the year and more we've been doing this work, we haven't usually been called upon to go with these children to court. That's because the shelter here is a way-station, and most of them are sent relatively quickly to live with family in the US. They end up going to court in whatever jurisdiction they eventually land.
That's starting to change. As more kids are separated from their parents, and as ORR takes longer to place them, more children are lingering in CT's shelter - and more of them are brought into immigration court in Hartford for removal proceedings.
So it's absolutely true that Congress needs to hold ORR accountable, and national immigration policy needs to change.
But for all of us in CT, here's the question: What will we do for these children? However they came to us, they're ours, if only for a brief time. How will we protect them? How will we advocate for them? Can Connecticut be a state committed to justice for every single children?
CLS is on the front lines of this fight. We need your help.