New Sanctuary Coalition

Keeping families together and advocating against deportations




Free Unaccompanied Minors

Background Info

As our country scrambles to respond to the threat of the coronavirus, we risk forgetting the most vulnerable among us. Even as each of us struggles to protect ourselves and our loved ones, we also have a collective spiritual calling to extend our compassion beyond our immediate orbits and remember the unaccompanied children, those imprisoned minors cruelly separated from their immigrant parents who remain in the custody of our ORR-funded facilities. These young people are now forced to confront this pandemic in captivity, without their families, separated from their loved ones who desperately wish to be reunited with them. 

As if this situation weren’t already maddening enough, now three staff members at ORR-funded facilities — as well as one foster parent — have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of infected are bound to grow, adding further potential threats inside an already harmful system.

As these children remain confined behind these centers’ walls, we risk exposing them to rampant illness and suffering, leaving them to face both in terrifying isolation.

We ask everyone to speak up for these voiceless children in captivity before further damage is done to their mental and physical health.


Call and write to: Jallyn Sualog, Deputy Director for Children’s Programs, Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR): 

 

A sample script is below.

Let us know how it went, here.

For Calls: 202-401-4997

Hello, my name is [First and Last name] and I am a member of New Sanctuary Coalition. 

We are concerned about the unaccompanied immigrant children in ORR care. Our local, State and Federal officials are warning us about the risks from this pandemic COVID 19 and that we should not congregate. We want to know what you are doing to guarantee their health, safety, and well-being.

If you get through to someone we make the same statement above but ask a few questions.

  • How have you responded to the directive by California Central Court District Judge, Dolly M. Gee, agencies operating migrant children detention facilities must by April 6 provide an accounting of their efforts to release those in custody to suitable sponsors, most often family members?
  • What precautions are agencies taking for the children?
  • What precautions are agencies taking for the staff. Are they coming in and out everyday putting the children at greater risk?
  • Are the children given cleaning materials and disinfectant to be protected?
  • Are the children being given gloves and masks?
  • How is food handled - are the food preparers given gloves and masks?
  • Do you have Covid-19 tests and if there is an infection what are the precautions?
  • If not you, then who is responsible for making these decisions?
  • We are seeing more and more children and staff in ORR funded facilities testing positive for Covid-19.
  • How are you taking care of their health and well-being?
  • When you reunite those who have known sponsors and family members waiting for them? If not, why won't you Free The Children?

LETTER TEMPLATE 

Send, or email to: Jallyn Sualog, Deputy Director for Children’s Programs, Office of Refugee Resettlement

330 C Street, SW., Washington, DC 20201

DCSProgram@acf.hhs.gov

[Date]

 

Dear __________,

 

[Feel free to change the words]

As our country scrambles to respond to the threat of the coronavirus, we risk forgetting the most vulnerable among us. Even as each of us struggles to protect ourselves and our loved ones, we also have a collective spiritual calling to extend our compassion beyond our immediate orbits and remember the unaccompanied children, those imprisoned minors cruelly separated from their immigrant parents who remain in the custody of our ORR-funded facilities. These young people are now forced to confront this pandemic in captivity, without their families, separated from their loved ones who desperately wish to be reunited with them. 

As if this situation weren’t already maddening enough, now many children and staff members at ORR-funded facilities — as well as one foster parent — have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of infected are bound to grow, adding further potential threats inside an already harmful system.

As these children remain confined behind these centers’ walls, we risk exposing them to rampant illness and suffering, leaving them to face both in terrifying isolation. These conditions contribute to the growth of the pandemic, not only may affect these children, but also staff who return each day to their families and communities. 

What are you doing to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in ORR care? Are children still being reunited with families on a timely basis?

I urge you to listen to the depths of your conscience and take drastic measures to protect all of these lives. 


Sincerely, 

[Your name]

___________________________________

Calls to Executive Directors of ORR funded agencies:

*UPDATE: STATEMENT FROM CAYUGA CENTER

A sample script is below.

You can also find the script, names/numbers, and let us know how it went, here.

Hello, my name is [First and Last name] and I am a member of New Sanctuary Coalition. 

We are concerned about the unaccompanied immigrant children in your facility. Our local, State and Federal officials are warning us about the risks from this pandemic COVID 19 and that we should not congregate. We want to know what you are doing to guarantee their health, safety, and well-being.

If you get through to someone we make the same statement above but ask a few questions.

  • How will you respond to the directive by California Central Court District Judge, Dolly M. Gee, agencies operating migrant children detention facilities must by April 6 provide an accounting of their efforts to release those in custody to suitable sponsors, most often family members?
  • What precautions are you taking for the children?
  • What precautions are you taking for the staff. Are they coming in and out everyday putting the children at greater risk?
  • Are the children given cleaning materials and disinfectant to be protected?
  • Are the children being given gloves and masks?
  • How is food handled - are the food preparers given gloves and masks?
  • Do you have covid 19 tests and if there is an infection what are the precautions?
  • Who is responsible for making these decisions?
  • Who is the medical officer/doctor in charge?
  • How many children are in your facility?

No Answer? Leave a voicemail:

My number is [NUMBER], everyone at New Sanctuary Coalition will be waiting for your call.

Let us know how your call went here.


LETTER TEMPLATE TO THE DIRECTORS OF THE ORR FUNDED AGENCIES THAT HOUSE/TAKE CARE OF UNACCOMPANIED MINORS

Send your letter to COFCCA, CAYUGA, CATHOLIC CHARITIES, CHILDREN’S VILLAGE

[Date]

 

Dear __________,

 

[Feel free to change the words]

As our country scrambles to respond to the threat of the coronavirus, we risk forgetting the most vulnerable among us. Even as each of us struggles to protect ourselves and our loved ones, we also have a collective spiritual calling to extend our compassion beyond our immediate orbits and remember the unaccompanied children, those imprisoned minors cruelly separated from their immigrant parents who remain in the custody of our ORR-funded facilities. These young people are now forced to confront this pandemic in captivity, without their families, separated from their loved ones who desperately wish to be reunited with them. 

As if this situation weren’t already maddening enough, now three staff members at ORR-funded facilities — as well as one foster parent — have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of infected are bound to grow, adding further potential threats inside an already harmful system.

As these children remain confined behind these centers’ walls, we risk exposing them to rampant illness and suffering, leaving them to face both in terrifying isolation. These conditions contribute to the growth of the pandemic, not only may affect these children, but also staff who return each day to their families and communities. 

What are you doing to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in your care? Are children still being reunited with families on a timely basis?

I urge you to listen to the depths of your conscience and take drastic measures to protect all of these lives. 


Sincerely, 

[Your name]



CONTACT INFO:

Cayuga Center NYC: 646-760-9100

101 Hamilton Ave, Auburn, NY 13021

@CayugaCenters

Edward Myers Hayes

President and Chief Executive Officer

 

Children’s Village: 914-693-0600

One Echo Hills 

Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522

@ChildrensVllg

David Collins

Chief Program Officer

 

Abbott House: 914-591-7300

James L. Kaufman

President and CEO

00 N. Broadway

Irvington, New York 10533

914-591-7300

 

Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies (COFCCA): (212) 929-2626 (518) 453-1160

254 West 31st Street

Fifth Floor

New York, NY 10001

@COFCCA

Jim Purcell, President & CEO

jpurcell@cofcca.org

Kathleen Brady-Stepien

Associate Executive Director, Upstate

kbradystepien@cofcca.org

Mary Jane Dessables

Director of Information, Research and Accountability

mjdessables@cofcca.org

 

HHS (Health and Human Services)

Media@hhs.gov or:

Lydia Holt (ORR/Public Affairs)

202-401-9217

Lydia.Holt@acf.hhs.gov

 

This list includes NYS agencies, please feel free to call agencies in your state.






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New Sanctuary Coalition

239 Thompson St.

New York, NY 10012

646-395-2925

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