Aron** was three years old when he was taken away from his mother upon their arrival at the U.S.-Mexico border. For four and a half months, he lived in a government shelter in Phoenix—scared, alone, and surrounded by strangers—while his mother struggled in adult detention in another city.
This is where the Young Center comes in.
When a Young Center Child Advocate is assigned to a case, they jump into action on many fronts. In Aron’s case, the Child Advocate’s first job was simply to find Aron’s mother. After tracking her down in detention facility, Aron’s advocate got to work finding an attorney to represent Aron’s mom, arranging for an interpreter to help communication between Aron’s mom and her new lawyer, and then writing a recommendation to convince the judge that reunifying three-year-old Aron and his mom was in everyone’s best interests.
In early July, the government approved Aron’s mom’s release and our request for reunification. When the pair were unexpectedly reunified and dropped off at a bus station with no notice, Young Center staff and volunteers immediately joined them, bringing food and supplies for their three-day bus ride, and staying in contact throughout the journey and their reunion with extended family.
A Young Center Child Advocate’s job is to be the one person who is 100% on the side of a child in federal detention. To hear their stories, learn about their families and home countries and individual needs, to know them and to ensure everyone involved in the process is prioritizing the child’s best interests at all times. Advocates also follow up after the child’s release from detention to make sure they continue to have access to educational, social, medical, and legal services. A Child Advocate is a lifeline for a child in detention.
We need more lifelines.
There is so much work still to do, both for the hundreds of children still separated from their parents and for the unaccompanied children who continue to arrive here on their own seeking protection. These children need advocates to stand with them and fight for what is in their best interests. Please join us in this fight by subscribing to our newsletter for Action Alerts or by making a donation today.
Thank you for your support!
The Young Center Team
** Aron's name has been changed to protect his privacy.