This Week in Restoring Family Links News

Unaccompanied Minor Migrants: Last week, we shared a story highlighting the history of unaccompanied minor migrants in the US. This week, we shared a great story focusing on just a piece of that history – the influx of unaccompanied minor migrants who came to the US from Cuba after Fidel Castro came to power. The historical context for this topic is important to keep in mind as the debate in both the American public and in Congress for addressing the crisis continues. An important piece of that debate is whether to change a law requiring the US to provide immigration hearings for unaccompanied minors coming from countries without contiguous borders with the United States (i.e. Mexico or Canada). Advocacy groups are warning that changing the law would put already vulnerable youth at risk of being sent back to dangerous situations when many of them could be approved as asylum seekers.

Also this week, border patrol reported that they have witnessed a significant drop in the number of unaccompanied minor migrants over the past two weeks, from last month’s daily average of 300 youth a day to last week’s low of 80 a day. Throughout the crisis, the Catholic Church has advocated for responding humanely. This past week, several priests in southern California held a Mass to honor immigrants and continue to draw the public’s attention to the crisis. The latest developments to the unaccompanied minor migrant crisis can be found on the Migration Policy Institute’s website, here.

Refugees – Central African Republic and Burma: This week, rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) signed a ceasefire, hopefully bringing an end to violence that has forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes. If the conflict is brought to an end, those seeking refuge in Cameroon and Chad may be able to return home. Until then, the United Nations has urged donors to increase funding for the crisis as many of the institutions in Cameroon and Chad are ill-equipped to provide services needed by the refugee populations. A report released this week looks at displacement across the Central African region and how humanitarian responses to these crises can be improved.

Moving half-way around the world to Burma, the Restoring Family Links Blog shared a successful family reconnection story this week. With the help of the ICRC, the American Red Cross was able to reunite a family of refugees from Burma. This comes at a time when the status of Burmese refugees along the Thai-Burma border is quite precarious. Thai officials continue to threaten repatriation despite warnings from the UNHCR that Burma is not yet ready for the return of these refugees, in part because of land mines and unmarked minefields that remain from the conflict, but also because of lingering ethnic tensions that could be exacerbated by the arrival of refugees, some of which have not been back to Burma for three decades.

Restoring Family Links Web Inquiry: Last but not least, remember that the Restoring Family Links Web Inquiry Form is live! This week, the Restoring Family Links Blog posted an instructional video showing how the form can be accessed and used. The video can also be found on YouTube. Please share the form and video to help expand the reach of the Restoring Family Links program!