Making Orphans of Young Children

young children in U.S. Custody
Young children in U.S. custody could become orphans.

More than 500 children from toddlers to teens are STILL on this day August 27, 2018 being held by the U.S. government. As is well known, these children came to the United States with their parents seeking asylum from brutalities in their Central American home countries. More than a month ago, a federal court ordered that the children be reunited with their parents. But that has not happened. Where are they now?

The children are under the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) an agency that is “responsible for finding homes for unaccompanied migrant children, the ones who attempt to enter the country without their parents. Now the agency has to shelter the ones the government has taken from their families,” NPR’s host Audie Cornish reported on “All Things Considered.”

Few Americans knew about ORR until the Trump administration initiated its zero-tolerance policy and began placing asylum seekers in cages. That policy was reversed in June 2018, but there was a catch. Attorney General Jeff Sessions decreed that those seeking asylum due to gang and domestic violence were not eligible for asylum and should be deported.

Many parents were forced to leave the United States and return to Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador without their young children, who were placed in a network of 100 shelters in fourteen states. ORR is supposed to find homes for them with relatives or foster parents. But such homes are hard to find because of a new Trump policy.

When families offer homes, the Trump administration requires that these families be fingerprinted and questioned. The interrogations are ostensibly to protect the children from unsuitable, fraudulent, or criminal sponsors. Information is sent to the Department of Homeland Security. If foster families, family members, or parents are in the U.S. illegally, they are not likely to come forward, because they are subject to immediate arrest.

The result is a longer stay for young children in shelters. It’s a possibility that some children could be left in shelters indefinitely.  In essence, they would become orphans.




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