LULAC Applauds California Lawmakers for Passage of Law Slated to Provide $3 Million in Legal Aid to Refugee Children

August 22, 2014

Contact: Jossie Flor Sapunar

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Top California lawmakers revealed their intention to quickly pass a law that would deliver $3 million in legal aid to refugee children in the state. The announcement comes days after an LA Times article uncovered the murders of as many as 10 of the 43 unaccompanied children that were deported back to Honduras.

“Without legal counsel, the protection of these refugee children – scared kids who have traversed several countries to escape the horrors at home – would be trumped by the complexities of the American immigration legal system,” said LULAC National Executive Director Brent Wilkes. “We commend California for being the first state to emerge as leader in protecting the refugee children and look to other states with high concentrations of relocated children to mirror California’s leadership.”

Scheduled to be finalized today, the California bill will provide not only legal aid but will also guarantee every child a refugee court case hearing. LULAC had recently sent a letter petitioning Congress for federal protection from deportation for the unaccompanied minors to protect other children from being slain upon their return to Central America.

In addition, LULAC members plan to activate on National Activation Day on September 6, 2014. Held at local Feeding America food banks, members will organize events that provide critically needed items, pro bono legal advice, and, as available, health screenings to families that have taken in the refugee children. Activation will take place in cities with a high concentration of relocated refugee children, which include Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; New York City, New York; Miami, Florida; and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, among others.

“We had to mobilize on our own because, until now, the most that states had accomplished were symbolic calls for humane treatment,” said LULAC Vice President for the Far West Mickie Luna. “To the children, the eloquent gestures are nothing more than empty words. The California law and the National Activation Day on September 6 will provide the relief that the children desperately need.”

Though the House of Representatives has passed a bill that would place the Central American children on the ‘rocket docket’ to deportation before the August recess, Senate leaders had adamantly expressed the bill would not pass.

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