July 30, 2007

"Homes of Sanctuary" for Children of Detained and Deported Parents

Washington, DC – The Board of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) has announced its plans to address a critical problem that threatens the health and well-being of the Latino family nationwide; the safety and placement of American born children whose parents are detained for deportation.

As America grapples with the controversial issue of immigration and Congress fails to find a solution to our broken immigration system, local officials take matters into their own hands -enforcing federal immigration laws, which include identification, detainment and deportation of undocumented people. Meanwhile a serious problem has surfaced. What happens to American born children of detained and deported undocumented parents?

An alarming number of innocent children caught in these circumstances have been placed under the care of the state and placed into the foster care system. A great concern has emerged among Latino Christian Church leaders that have led CONLAMIC to respond by announcing its goal to establish homes of sanctuary for these children among its Christian congregation members.
CONLAMIC has began the development of a database that will register 1,000 pastors for the purpose of identifying “Hogares Santuarios” or Homes of Sanctuary for the American born school aged children of detained or deported parents. The effort has begun to register 1,000 churches across the nation for this purpose. It’s bad enough to learn that American raised children who are deported with their families to the country of their birth must suffer the trauma of a foreign language, land, people, schools and society that is very different from what they’ve known, especially given the dangers of some of the countries that have unstable governments.

“Hogares Santuarios” or Homes of Sanctuary is an initiative that CONLAMIC is spearheading to ensure that there is an immediately option for children who need a safe home within their community. These children have the right to continue to live in their own community with people they’re parents know and trust and they also have the right to continue to go to the same school.

The Latino Christian church feels the moral responsibility to address this issue now. Children’s Ministry has always been a critical component of our congregations. CONLAMIC views this as simply an extension of this ministry. We believe that to know what is right and not to do it is a sin. We simply cannot allow these children to be taken and placed into the state system of foster care.

CONLAMIC is currently contacting state departments of social services to gather information for leaders in each state about how become eligible for guardianship of these children. This is an ambitious but crucial effort which will ensure the health and well being of these children.

CONLAMIC’s website will soon launch a section dedicated to this effort that will provide information and resources for leaders and families about “Hogares Santuarios”. This site will also allow individuals to provide information regarding children who need access to this program.
Churches will assign chaplains who will move quickly to inform parents who are at risk or have been detained about the local “Hogares Santuarios”.

CONLAMIC seeks to prevent the loss of these children to unstable homes, drugs, gangs, and other dangers that affect the children who lack a stable, loving, and safe environment. With God’s conviction and determination, we will succeed in saving thousands of American lives.

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