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Miami's efforts to reunite immigrant children with families

The increased stream of unaccompanied minors into the United States in the last two years has resulted in an overload of work for the non-profit agencies in Florida that provide assistance to these children. In many cases, these organizations are endeavoring to reunite children with family members who have previously come to the country. In other cases, they are assisting those who have migrated to escape dangerous situations in their home countries. Miami is one of the areas releasing the greatest number of these young immigrants to sponsors, who are, in most cases, relatives.

Because these family immigration cases have increased so dramatically, the resources of those non-profits assisting them are stretched to the limits. Related issues include providing legal help, completing forms and assisting with school enrollment. Having a notary assist with relocation paperwork could cost up to $1,200, making these non-profit organizations and services extremely valuable to the families using them. However, many of the organizations providing these services are experiencing budget challenges. One Miami organization has recently dismissed half of its employees due to a lack of funds. Those still working are limited to half-days in paid time. Still, they put in extensive hours to assist those in need.

As the information about these organizations' services spreads, the requests for assistance increase. Directors of some non-profits indicate that they have been in a crisis mode during the two-year increase in the influx of unaccompanied minors. Some seek the assistance of lawyers willing to provide pro bono services to help those in need.

Legal help may be important, especially in cases involving children escaping dangerous conditions. A lawyer who is experienced in immigration and naturalization cases may be able to help a minor by providing representation at official proceedings and by connecting that young person with relevant resources needed to integrate into U.S. culture and society.

Source: NBC News, "Miami Non-Profits Work Overtime to Reunite Border Kids, Parents", Carmen Sesin, July 30, 2014

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