HARLINGEN, Texas — With the majority of illegal crossings being family units and unaccompanied children, a local organization is advocating for migrant children. They are seeking volunteers to go with children to their court dates and play with them at detention centers.
Olivia Peña, organization’s attorney, “They’re alone at the end of the day. They’re children, and they need support.“
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights is calling out to the community for help in bringing hope to a child after a long journey.
“We want to make sure that those children know that we’re there for them. That we’re their voice and that they know that someone is looking out for what’s best for them, despite being in such a complex system.“ says Peña.
Child advocates visit unaccompanied or separated children in detention centers once a week. They learn the child’s story, then share their information with a social worker to figure out what’s in the child’s best interest.
Peña adds, “The advocates go into the facilities, build that report and while building that report they’re playing, or they’re doing some reading. Some fun activity that allows the child to open up and share that very privileged story. We want to learn about, but we want to do it at their pace and make sure that they’re comfortable sharing that story, so we can then advocate with everyone else that’s making a decision on their behalf.“
The organization goes with the child to court, presenting themselves to a judge as the child’s advocate making recommendations on what’s best for the child based on their story. Whether it is the child needing more time or going back to their home country.
The two-day volunteer training for new child advocates starts June 29. You can call 956-230-1850 for more information.