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Hand in Hand2018-11-30T16:52:16+00:00

Support Central American Kids

“I wanted to go to school but the gangs would bother me when I walked to school. They told me they would kill me if I didn’t join them. The police won’t do anything because they are afraid of the gangs. The gangs beat me up 3 times and it hurt very bad. After they killed my friend, I was afraid to stay.” 

– Unaccompanied Minor living in Sioux Falls, SD

“My parents told me I had to go to live. I walked for days and days. I was hungry and it was very dangerous but if I stayed in my country, I would be dead. I only want to go to school and get a job so I can help my family.”

– Unaccompanied Minor living in Sioux Falls, SD

“Where I lived, there were many bad people. I lived near the school but my uncles would walk me to school because the gang does bad things to girls. Many girls became pregnant. I was always afraid they would take me and never went outside. I am so happy to be here where I can go to school.” 

– Unaccompanied Minor living in Sioux Falls, SD

The Office of Refugee Resettlement reports that there are 292 Unaccompanied Minors from Central America who have been released to a sponsor since 2014, and less than a dozen families separated at the border have been reunited and living in SD. Children have no right to a lawyer in immigration court. Without a lawyer 90% will be sent back to countries with horrific violence, poverty and corruption. We are working to change the futures of children seeking asylum across South Dakota by providing support to immigrants in our community and to assure services are coordinated throughout the state. Currently, we are raising money to go directly to a new initiative called Hand in Hand, Justice for Immigrant Children to hire a lawyer, support staff and build support services for these children. This initiative will be housed at South Dakota Voices for Peace, a nonprofit based in Sioux Falls, SD. To learn more about South Dakota Voices for Peace you can visit their website. Please also view the piece Keloland had created about our efforts.

SDVFP
KELOLAND

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

100% of your donation will go towards this new initiative, Hand in Hand, Justice for Immigrant Children. This initiative will be housed at South Dakota Voices for Peace, a nonprofit based in Sioux Falls, SD.

DONATE

FAQ

How do these children get to South Dakota and who are they living with?2018-10-10T12:56:55+00:00

When a child turns herself in at the border they trigger special processes. Under the Flores settlement agreement they are not allowed to be detained in a detention setting for more than 20 days. Therefore the government agency – Health and Human Services is under direct pressure to locate a qualified sponsor to take these children.  More often than not a child will identify someone she knows living in the United States. These “sponsors” are vetted and if he/she passes a background check, the child is sent to live with this sponsor. The sponsor’s obligation is keep the child out of trouble, enroll them in public schools and get them to immigration court. The Office of Refugee Resettlement reports that there are 292 Unaccompanied Minors from Central America who have been released to a sponsor since 2014, and less than a dozen families separated at the border have been reunited and living in SD.

Are these children and families illegally here?2018-10-08T21:16:42+00:00

No. The only way for people from Central America to seek asylum in the United States is to enter the country and ask for it. If a child or family has entered and asked for asylum with a Customs and Border Patrol officer, they are following the both international and US law. They are put into immigration proceedings to must provide a defense to why they should not be returned to their home country.

Are these children and families eligible for public benefits?2018-10-08T21:16:47+00:00

No. Only certain immigrants with certain statuses are eligible for public benefits.  Unaccompanied Minors and families separated at the border are not eligible for public benefits until their asylum case is approved. This can take 2-4 years! They are not allowed to work until their asylum case is approved. Any child in the United States has the right to public education, grades K-12.

What happens if these children do not show up to immigration court?2018-10-08T21:16:51+00:00

For South Dakota, immigration court is in Fort Snelling, MN. If a child does not appear in immigration court when summoned, he or she will be ordered removed in absentia – they will be ordered to return to their home country because they did not show up.  Therefore it is imperative to tell all children and their sponsors to show up to immigration court when they are summoned and ask for more time to find a lawyer.

How did this initiative come together?

After the horrific stories and images of children being separated from the parents at the border there was a national day of action – the Families Belong Together Rally – held across the country. Nearly 400 people showed up to the rally on June 30 in Sioux Falls, SD – co-organized by South Dakota Voices for Peace. Concerned community members asked, how is this affecting South Dakota and how can we have impact. SDVFP’s ED and immigration lawyer, Taneeza Islam explained the issue of Unaccompanied Minors and families being reunited in South Dakota and the lack of any legal services for them.They are all in immigration court proceedings in Minneapolis, MN. The group agreed to make the most impact, raising funds for a lawyer and support staff were most important. The group hopes to build a statewide network of volunteers to transport children and families to court and assist in other capacities. Our group came together because we are committed to act for our vulnerable immigrant children and families in South Dakota.
Names:
Jen Drieske, Co-Chair
Taneeza Islam, Co-Chair
Pastor Jean Morrow,  Fundraising Chair
Cathy Piersol
Linda Barker
Rhonda Morse
Sister Lynn Marie Welbig
Ann Henkin
Harriet Yocum
Shelly Hefty, Communications Chair
Jean Magnuson
Elizabeth Magnuson
Irene Chang
Mallory Isburg
Sara Crosby
Elizabeth Hertz
Yenny Ruiz Pineda
LeAnn Minister
Janet Brown
Yesenia Gonzalez, Outreach Chair
Eli Crain
Leah Piersol
Sister Pegge Boehm
Laura Renee Chandler
Pastor Maria Acosta
Sister Janet Hortsman