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“When I was a stranger, you welcomed me.” – Christian Tradition
“The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” – Jewish Tradition
“Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should entertain his guest generously.” – Islamic Tradition
Grounded in the Viatorian commitment to young people and to “those accounted of little importance,” Viator House of Hospitality (VHH) provides compassionate accompaniment of young adult male undocumented immigrants released from federal detention.
Established January 17, 2017, Viator House of Hospitality provides a supportive living environment where these young men can attend school, improve their language skills, grow spiritually and emotionally, receive proper medical care, and work while they await court proceedings that determine whether they can become U.S. citizens. If approved to pursue citizenship, they can remain at VHH for a period of time as they begin to build a life here.
What happens to children when they enter the United States seeking refuge?
More than 200,000 children entered the United States between 2014 and 2017 without adults as unaccompanied minors seeking protection from the despair of their homelands, 60,000 in 2015 alone. Most traveled thousands of miles on foot, in make-shift boats or by any means possible to make their way to our country. These are children who have no parent or legal guardian available in the United States.
When unaccompanied children under the age of 18 enter the country seeking protection from the violence of their homelands, they are detained and placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. Through the Office of Refugee Settlement, the children are housed in juvenile detention facilities operated by licensed child-care providing agencies.
In these juvenile detention facilities, the children are housed, cared for and given opportunities for education while they await legal proceedings that determine whether they can remain in the U.S. Most children seek “asylum,” which means they must prove they have a well-founded fear of persecution in their homeland. Unfortunately, nearly 60% of these children do not have attorneys to represent them at their hearing.
What happens when these children turn 18 years old?
When these children turn 18 years old, current laws prevent them from remaining in juvenile detention facilities. If they have no family with which to live in the U.S., they are transferred to adult detention facilities, which, in the Chicago area, are collar county jails where they might wait for months or more until their hearings.
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