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  • WRC responds to cuts in programming for unaccompanied migrant children in shelters

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    The Trump administration is cutting education (including English lessons), recreation, and legal services for unaccompanied migrant children in shelters run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The administration claims that the immigration influx at the southern border has created critical budget pressures.

    Leah Chavla, Policy Advisor of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission, released the following statement regarding the administration’s action:

    Cutting services for unaccompanied migrant children in ORR shelters is illegal. It is in direct breach of the 1997 Flores settlement, which sets out conditions under which children can be held in immigration detention.

    ORR does need funding to meet the needs of increased numbers of unaccompanied children, but the real issue here is gross mismanagement at the border. There are better ways to address the problem:

      1. Stop needlessly separating children who come with a parent or caregiver, thereby creating additional unaccompanied children.
      2. Stop sharing sensitive information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that prevents the release and reunification of children in the community, resulting in children being detained for longer than necessary.
      3. Focus on expanding shelter capacity instead of spending unreasonable amounts of money for inappropriate influx facilities that do not meet child welfare standards and cost more than appropriate shelters.

    Detaining children for months in conditions that do not meet child welfare standards and failing to provide them with basic needs such as recreation, education, and basic legal services is unacceptable in the United States.