Florida non-profits are committed to receiving and helping to relocate some of the undocumented children who have crossed the U.S. border from Central America. Over 3,000 children and teens are resettling in Florida and being sheltered and reunited with family members.
Miami is one of four metropolitan areas that are helping the most children with situations such as finding relatives and parents. These non-profit organizations are swamped with calls from children trying to find their parents, and social workers are assisting the children and their families with issues such as school enrollment, paperwork and legal aid.
An organization named We Count! is becoming overwhelmed with the increased number of children. At present, they are running extremely low on funding, having to let go of half of their staff and only paying the remaining workers half a day’s wages. The staff has had to put in extra hours to accommodate the needs of the relocating children and their families, but remain resolved to help.
Another non-profit organization is American Friend’s Service Committee, which has attorneys volunteering their time to assist the children and their families with legal issues. Lucio Perez-Reynozo is one of these attorneys, volunteering his services to the situation and said he is working weekends to help out as much as he can. He is concerned about the U.S. government’s hiring the best attorneys to deport these children, and offering the children no legal representation.
Florida residents are becoming concerned with the influx of undocumented children in their communities. One of the shelters housing the children is in Pasco County, Florida, is federally funded. This Florida non-profit organization helping the undocumented children is requesting that the county allow them to double the capacity of their shelter for boys from 16 to 32 beds. Even though the children have no criminal backgrounds, citizens that live around the shelter have mixed emotions about the situation.
One homeowner was concerned about her property value going down due to her proximity to the shelter for the children. Another homeowner praised the shelter, saying that no human being is illegal and they have the right to a better life.
Many of the children have fled from human trafficking, gang violence and abuse. One non-profit, The Integrated Honduran Organization, has around a dozen volunteers in Arizona and Texas that assist with finding children who are being sought by family members in the U.S. Francisco Portillo, the founder of the organization says that sometimes he works into the middle of the night assisting families, and when word of his program spread, he got even more requests for help.
The sentiment expressed from the non-profits is one of deep concern and a sincere desire to help. Some of the children have been abused, and need a variety of services such as receiving therapy for the trauma they experienced and other legal matters. Some of these non-profit organizations collaborate together and take a holistic approach to assisting the children.
The Governor of Florida issued a statement about President Obama, saying he was incompetent in his failure to take action about the minors crossing the border and said that Floridians have compassion for the children but the borders should be secured in order to stop the influx of children. The Florida non-profits helping to relocate the children are overwhelmed, but they have resolved to help the undocumented children as much as they can.
By Adrianne Hill