This Week in Restoring Family Links News 11/8/2014-11/14/2014

Do you follow @intlfamilylinks (Restoring Family Links’ account) on Twitter? See an interesting article but just don’t have the time to read it? “This Week in RFL News” is a weekly blog segment that highlights and summarizes some of the news items posted by RFL’s twitter.

Refugees in the US: Every year, the United States resettles thousands of refugees from around the world, providing them the chance to establish roots in communities across the country. While each refugee and refugee population is different, they all have similar needs: housing, employment, education, reconnecting with family. The move from one culture to another can also be a shocking experience. The video “Culture Shock, Sudanese Refugees Coming to America” was filmed in 2011, but has recently resurged through social media in the US and abroad. While the struggles the refugees featured in the film may pale in comparison to the conflicts they fled, the video highlights the serious issues many refugees face when trying to acclimate and become a part of their new country.

This opening segment isn’t all Debbie Downer though. Every week, stories from across the US are published highlighting the work of communities to support their local refugees. From the Chaldean Community Foundation’s work to meet the needs of Detroit’s growing Iraqi population to a university in Omaha sponsoring a health clinic to ensure their refugee communities are prepared for flu season, cities across the US continue to embrace resettled refugees with open arms. Many refugee communities also receive a warm welcome from church congregations. Two stories from Pennsylvania this week highlight the efforts of churches in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to support refugees from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, many resettlement organizations are celebrating recently resettled refugees’ first Thanksgiving. These are often a great chance to volunteer and get started helping support your local community. For more information on how you can get involved, contact your local refugee resettlement organization.

US Migration – Children and Families: Given my personal interest in sexual and gender minority rights, I was very excited to stumble upon this piece about LGBT unaccompanied child migrants. The story follows the journey of Jefferson* from his home town in El Salvador to a shelter for migrant children in Mexico City. While all children attempting the migration from Central America to the US are vulnerable to exploitation, human rights advocates have said that the countries of the Northern Triangle have some of the highest rates of anti-LGBT violence in the Americas, making the trek especially difficult for sexual and gender minorities. Luckily, Mexico provides some protections for LGBT persons and Jefferson has been granted a visa. However, he still hopes to travel to the US where there is less violence against LGBT persons and more legal protections.

In other migration news, this week leaders from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras will come to the US to meet with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss addressing the root causes of child migration. While the number of unaccompanied child migrants has slowed in recent months, it is expected to increase again in the coming months. This has led the US to create more detention centers for women and children despite advocate warnings that such facilities tend to be rife with abuse and neglect. Elsewhere, stories from communities across the US continue to feature the lives of unaccompanied child migrants now that they are reunited with family or other sponsors as they prepare for their immigration hearings.

Lastly, please check out the Connected Walls project, which features documentaries from around the world on the barriers that separate communities and families. There is an especially moving piece about two brothers separated by the US-Mexico border wall.

*pseudonym used to protect identity