In the last six weeks, thousands of children have been separated from their parents at the U.S. border, and some of them are being housed in West Michigan as a result.
Prior to April 2018, a child would occasionally end up separated from their parent after crossing the U.S. border, but Dona Abbott of Bethany Christian Services said that has completely changed in the last six weeks.
“Now about 90 percent of the children we serve have been forcibly separated,” Abbott said.
Bethany Christian Services foster program for immigrant and refugee children is completely inundated; they are now having to turn children away.
“Yeah, that is really hard,” Abbott said. The calls come in from border patrol agents or ICE asking if Bethany has any room for another child.
Abbott said agents accompany all children to their foster home, which is helpful. Families are typically given 24 hours or less and are given only the gender and sometimes the name and age of the child they are taking in.
“Sometimes we get information about where the parent is being detained and sometimes we don’t,” Abbott said.
They will spend weeks calling detention centers to determine where the children’s family is—a process that used to be much simpler. Meanwhile, the children struggle with the trauma and panic of being taken from their parents while surrounded by strangers.
SOURCE: Emma Nicolas
WZZM / ABC 13