This year, the United States anticipates that over 90,000 children will cross the border unaccompanied. The majority of these children are fleeing violence in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Lutheran Services of Georgia has already been in communication with the Office of Refugee Resettlement regarding this humanitarian and refugee crisis. We recognize that these children are making a courageous, dangerous journey to escape desperate situations back home. Our commitment to serve those in need compels us to provide safety, care, and welcome for this vulnerable population. Our experience bringing hope, healing, and strength to children and families through specialized foster care and other programs prepares us to assist in any way we are asked.
In order to empower you to join us in taking action, we have compiled the following list of ways you can support unaccompanied children. Please share this list with all those who have a heart for welcome.
LEARN: Supporting unaccompanied children begins with awareness of their situation. In the midst of so much misinformation and discrimination towards these children, spreading accurate information and compassionate perspectives on the crisis is crucial. Check out and share the following resources with those looking to learn more.
- "It Was Either This or Be Murdered" - Bishop Michael Rinehart of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America reflects on his visit to a facility housing unaccompanied children.
- "U.S. Religious Leaders Embrace Cause of Immigrant Children" - This piece from the New York Times examines the ways that religious leaders around the country are supporting unaccompanied children.
- "LIRS, Partners Respond to Immigrant-Children Crisis" - This article from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod emphasizes over 45 Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) partners that are providing care and services for unaccompanied children.
- LIRS Responds to Crisis at the Border: Lutheran Immigration and Refuge Service's website includes FAQs and reports about the crisis, along with opportunities for action.
- "Our Journey to Children at the Border" - Rev. Stephen Bouman, Executive Director of ELCA Congregational and Synodical Mission, shares his experience visiting unaccompanied children along the border.
- "Everything You Need to Know About the Child and Family Migrant Crisis" - This frequently updated piece from Vox will answer several of your questions related to the crisis.
- "Children on the Run" - This United Nations report is based on 400 interviews with unaccompanied alien children and provides a comprehensive analysis on the reasons they are fleeing Central America.
GIVE: There are several organizations reaching out to unaccompanied children, but they need your support. Here are two possibilities for giving.
- Give to Lutheran Disaster Response by listing "Unaccompanied Children" as your designated gift. All donations will go directly towards supporting unaccompanied children.
- Give to Kids in Need of Defense, an organization that provides unaccompanied children with legal representation to argue their cases.
- Give to help LIRS support children, advocate for all immigrants, and support newly arrived refugees.
WELCOME: LSG is committed to welcoming unaccompanied children. Join us in welcome.
- Become a Household of Welcome. LIRS's Households of Welcome provide a community-based alternative to detention for unaccompanied children and migrant families.
- Write a Letter. They Are Children is collecting compassionate and encouraging letters to welcome unaccompanied children to the U.S.
ADVOCATE: Policies have a direct impact on the lives of these children. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services offers a number of advocacy opportunities on their website.
- Join the #ActofLove campaign and ask Congress to respond to unaccompanied children with humanitarian solutions.
- Contact your representatives through the LIRS Action Center.
- Ask the government not to expedite deportations.
- Treat this as a refugee crisis.
- Request Congress to allocate $3.7 million in emergency supplemental funds.
- Ask Congress not to revoke the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act that protects children at the border.
PRAY: Support unaccompanied children through prayer.
- The Bible includes several passages about flight and welcoming the stranger. Consider reading the flight into Egypt, Moses in the basket, the Good Samaritan, or the parable of the Sheep and the Goats.
- World Vision wrote a prayer for the children, government, and aid organizations during this crisis.
- Sing this new hymn inspired by the unaccompanied children crisis.
If you would like to suggest another resource or share a personal story of supporting unaccompanied children, please contact Abi Koning at email@example.com. Thank you for joining us in welcome.