San Francisco Considers Resolution to Aid Migrant Children

San Francisco Considers Resolution to Aid Migrant Children

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SAN FRANCISCO – A city that has made a name for itself as a sanctuary city for immigrants could become a model city for how to deal with the refugee crisis of migrant children.

About 200 to 250 children each month are coming to the Bay Area to be reunited with family members or sponsors, according to CARECEN. The organization has seen a tripling in the number of minors seeking its immigration legal services, from 20 to 60 minors per month – more than they have the capacity to serve.

A resolution introduced last week by Supervisor David Campos would ensure that while these children await immigration proceedings, they have access to housing and social services.

“Our children are scared,” CARECEN executive director Lariza Dugan-Cuadra said at a rally Tuesday in front of City Hall.

“For me, it’s a very personal issue. I myself came to this country as an undocumented child,” explained Campos, who crossed the border at the age of 14. “It was a scary experience, but I was lucky,” he said. “I was coming with a parent.”

Many of the children crossing the U.S. border today are making the journey alone, fleeing violence in their home countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Twelve-year-old Freddy is one of them. He crossed the border alone even though his parents warned him of the risks.

“My mother told me, ‘It isn’t easy. You have to think about it.’”

Although the children are fleeing violence in their home countries, the U.S. government continues to view the children as immigrants, not refugees – despite calls by United Nations officials to treat the children as refugees.

Service providers in cities like San Francisco are concerned that politics may be trumping concerns for children’s welfare.

Campos, who is running for State Assembly, said that his resolution would “send a clear message that San Francisco is on record saying the way our country is dealing with this tragedy is shameful.”

“If these conditions were happening anywhere else in the world,” Campos said, “we as a country would be denouncing them.”

His resolution also seeks to provide housing, social services, medical and mental health services and legal representation for the Central American youth.

“This is an issue of morality, an issue of conscience,” added California Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, who called for a moment of silence for Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez, the 11-year-old Guatemalan boy who was found dead along the Texas border last month.

“The Statue of Liberty says welcome to our shores,” Ammiano said. Instead, he said, some Americans are responding by calling the migrant children “diseased."

“I’ll tell you what the disease is,” said Ammiano. “It’s ignorance and prejudice and hate.”

On Saturday, CARECEN and other organizations are holding an emergency town hall meeting to discuss how Bay Area residents can help address the crisis.