Posted on December 11, 2023
Funding from CREDO Mobile supports KIND in its work to provide unaccompanied migrant children with the help they desperately need
Every month, thousands of unaccompanied children arrive at the U.S. border. Most are teens, some are toddlers. Many have suffered horrific trauma and abuse. A report by Doctors Without Borders on the Central American countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala stated that “the violence experienced by the population is not unlike that of individuals living through war. Citizens are murdered with impunity, kidnappings and extortion are daily occurrences. Non-state actors perpetuate insecurity and forcibly recruit individuals into their ranks and use sexual violence as a tool of intimidation and control.”
When these unaccompanied children get to the U.S. border, they need care and protection. They need help and they need hope.
Kids in Need of Defense gives it to them. KIND works to safeguard the rights and well-being of children as they migrate alone in search of safety and supply them with the legal representation they desperately need after they arrive in the United States. It also maintains a comprehensive psychosocial support program that connects children with medical care, mental-health care, access to education and crisis intervention.
To do all this, KIND needs support—and CREDO Mobile provides it. In April, our customers and community members voted to send a significant grant to KIND. This funding will enable KIND to continue its mission to protect migrant children and ensure that unaccompanied children on the move have access to protection, due process and critical social services.
Here’s a brief report from our friends at KIND that describes the many ways our donation is making a difference.
With funding from CREDO Mobile, KIND has substantially improved our support of children on the move seeking safety. From October 2022 to September 2023, we represented more than 7,000 children across the U.S., connecting them to KIND lawyers or KIND-mentored and trained pro bono partners to address their immigration-related legal needs. Despite court backlogs and other challenges that make obtaining legal relief a multi-year process, our dedication to our clients is strong at each step. In that one-year period, we secured 402 green card approvals, 40 grants of asylum, six T visa approvals for victims of sex or labor trafficking, one U visa approval for a victim of violent crime and 1,052 work permit approvals.
To expand our reach beyond the scope of our in-house attorneys, we built a network of more than 800 law firms, corporations, law schools and bar association partners, who are matched with children in need of representation. These volunteer attorneys receive training and mentorship from KIND for the duration of their cases. During the time period stated, KIND added 54 organizations to our network of pro bono partners. To ensure quality representation, our in-house attorneys provided 249 pro bono trainings across our U.S. offices for over 2,900 attendees.
In addition, our social services team provided trauma-informed programming and worked to ensure that our clients were connected to educational opportunities, healthcare and other critical services. KIND provided 1,524 clients (1,374 in the U.S. and 150 in Mexico) with individual psychosocial services during the stated timeframe, employing a strengths-based, holistic and preventative approach focused on basic needs, stabilization and empowerment. Across the U.S., KIND welcomed 4,855 child attendees (2,511 in the U.S. and 2,344 in Northern Mexico) to therapeutic programming events. These events included toy drives, art workshops and virtual social gatherings. We held back-to-school drives in September to give children the supplies they needed for the school year. Altogether, these child-centered, culturally responsive offerings mitigate any potential for re-traumatization that our clients might experience as they integrate into their new communities. KIND complements these in-house services with client referrals to partner service-providers for mental health, medical and academic support. During the yearlong period referenced, we also expanded our network of providers in the U.S. One example of KIND’s outreach is our Northern Virginia field office, where we now partner with Dream Project VA to make sure our child clients have equal access to educational opportunities, scholarships and mentors.
The challenges faced by children on the move is not limited to those crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In recognition of this, we advanced our efforts internationally. We protected children in Mexico, confronted the root causes of migration in Central America and connected children on the move in Europe to needed legal services. We also strengthened the capacity of our partners in the U.S. and around the world who work with our vulnerable client population through trainings and other activities.
KIND’s work changes the trajectory of our client’s lives and our services are needed now more than ever. We will continue to advocate for the rights of unaccompanied children, working at both the individual and systems levels to transform the policies, programs and processes that fundamentally shape children’s immigration experiences. CREDO Mobile’s support has made tangible positive changes in the lives of many children.
KIND has a number of important new projects in progress.
Keeping Kids Safe Campaign. Immigration reform needs to be addressed at the systemic level to ensure lasting impact on vulnerable children. To that end, we’re working diligently to provide immigration relief for our clients and to improve the U.S. immigration system as a whole. This spring, we initiated our Keeping Kids Safe Campaign, which is aimed at building public support for legislative reform in immigration court. The campaign is currently focused on the Immigration Court Efficiency and Children’s Court Act of 2023. If passed, this legislation would allow for separate children’s dockets in immigration court to alleviate the severe backlog in the current system, which serves both adults and children and has wait times up to seven years. The specialized children’s dockets would feature specially trained personnel, child-participation protocols and coordination with legal services organizations to put children’s best interests first.
Central American Minors Refugee and Parole Program. We’re extremely proud of our progress in the Central American Minors (CAM) Refugee and Parole Program. Through the program, parents and legal guardians in the U.S. can apply for their qualifying children in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to join them in the U.S. with refugee status or via humanitarian parole. Since our CREDO Mobile grant, we hired two Guatemalan attorneys to accompany and orient eligible children in their CAM processes in April-May 2023. As of September 30, 2023, KIND has worked with 72 individuals, including 45 qualifying children and 27 family members. By providing information about the U.S. refugee process to children and helping prepare them for their interviews, we’re ensuring that children know how to share critical insights in their CAM interviews, thereby increasing their chance of obtaining U.S. refugee status. We’re currently working to expand the program in spring 2024 by recruiting law clinics to provide direct representation to children during CAM interviews under KIND mentorship.