Unaccompanied & Undocumented

By Brenda Cabrera

   In recent years, the U.S. has seen an increase of unaccompanied youth of all ages immigrating from many countries. Many seeking asylum and refuge from their home countries that are typically in turmoil. Several minors enter the country experiencing homelessness and in addition must confront being undocumented. Like many unaccompanied youth in the U.S., unaccompanied migrant youth are seeking a better living situation but are left to navigate much more complex and difficult intersectional issues alone. Many children and youth are often taken to court and later deported or reunified with a parent or relative residing in the United States. But as mentioned in the article titled Immigrant children who cross border alone find themselves in Chicago shelters, only 73% of cases allow children to stay in the country. Leaving children with no other option but to return to whatever they may have been escaping (gangs, sex trafficking, violence etc.).

   In Chicago alone, thousands of children have entered the city. Organizations like Heartland Alliance and The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights have confronted the issue. With many children being trauma survivors dealing with distress, they have ensured that the needs of the children get addressed. Though Chicago HOPES for Kids does not directly work with unaccompanied or migrant youth, families of all walks of life do reside in the shelters Chicago HOPES for Kids partners with, including migrant families seeking asylum and refuge. Staff and AmeriCorps members value the needs of all children and their families and have taken Trauma Informed Care (TIC) trainings to be readily equipped to support the children and families involved with our programs. In addition to TIC trainings, discussions around cultural competency have also been a high priority to appropriately address the needs of children and families.

If you would like to learn more or get involved with advocates confronting the issues of unaccompanied migrant youth in Chicago, visit https://www.theyoungcenter.org/ to learn more.

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