At Least 63% of Refugee Children at Lackland Air Force Base Qualify for Relief
Contact: media@raicestexas.org                                                                            July 22, 2014
Cell: 734.262.9705
 
RAICES Internal Review Finds 63% of Refugee Children at Lackland Air Force Base are Eligible for Relief
 
RAICES Calls on President Obama, House and Senate Leaders to Keep Protections in place for Unaccompanied Minors
 
San Antonio, TX— For the last six weeks, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) has been the sole provider of legal services to the nearly 1,200 unaccompanied children currently in HHS custody at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX. After a thorough review of all the intakes we have found that at least 63% of refugee children would likely benefit from relief by a U.S. Immigration Judge.
 
“We have carefully peer-reviewed the intakes of 925 children thus far, and our assessment is that [at least] 63 percent or 583 of these children are likely to be found eligible for relief by a U.S. Immigration Judge.” Jonathan Ryan, Executive Director of RAICES
 
RAICES stands firmly against any change to the (TVPRA) Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. We believe the changes proposed in the bills before congress would unfairly force children, likely eligible for relief, to be deported at the hands of untrained Customs and Border Patrol agents.
 
Kevyn Merida, a former child refugee and client of RAICES, came to the United States from Guatemala, at the age of 17. “When I was first taken to one of the shelters I didn’t want to open up to anyone. It wasn’t until I met an attorney at one of the “Know Your Rights” trainings inside the shelter that I finally decided to tell them why I left Guatemala.” For children like Kevyn it is very difficult to open up about the traumas they face, and many times they are unwilling to trust Customs and Border Patrol agents. “I didn’t want to talk to the Border Patrol; kids like me are scared of them.”
 
Had the proposed changes to the TVPRA been applied to Kevyn’s case he would most likely not be here with us today or on this earth. A seven day window is not enough time for children, who have survived severe wounds, to be comfortable with opening up to anyone, let alone Border Patrol agents. “Kevyn has been accepted by the U.S. Marine Corp; he leaves for boot camp in October. We can’t let children like Kevyn get pushed through the cracks.”
 
We urge President Obama, and Members of Congress to resist any proposals to change the law and ensure that every child receives adequate due process and the required humanitarian protection.
 
RAICES’ letter to President Obama, House and Senate Leaders: http://bit.ly/raicesletterdc
 
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RAICES is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing free and low-cost legal services to under-served immigrant children, families and refugees. RAICES is the sole provider of legal services to the refugee children being held at the Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas.
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