We Keep Young Men Seeking Asylum In Our Nation Out Of Immigrant Detention
More than 110,000 children total without parents or adult guardians entered the United States in Fiscal Years 2019 and 2020. They came from all over the world and have fled for their lives from violence in their homelands. Most traveled thousands of miles on foot, in make-shift boats or by any means possible to make their way to our country.
When these “unaccompanied children” enter the country, they are detained and placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services. Through the HHS Office of Refugee Settlement, the children are housed in juvenile detention facilities operated by licensed child-care providing agencies.
In these 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. The asylum legal process can take more than four years. Unfortunately, one university study estimates that 75% – 90% 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, 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.
What does Viator House of Hospitality offer?
VHH offers housing, food, clothing, case management, spiritual support, advocacy, referrals and volunteer experiences in a safe interfaith environment. We help them find jobs, learn American culture, enhance their language skills and do whatever is necessary to help them become contributing members to our society. At VHH they live together, share chores, build friendships, support one another while attending school and/or working. VHH can welcome 20 young men.
How long will a typical stay at Viator House of Hospitality be?
A young man can live at VHH through his immigration hearing process and beyond, until it is determined that he can thrive on his own. Due to lengthy delays in our immigration hearing system, this could be more than two years.