Crisis: Immigrant Children Separated from Parents

Statement from Monsignor Kevin Sullivan

Recent policy decisions by the federal administration have caused tragic and unnecessary pain for children and youth in shelter care for whom Catholic Charities has been providing services.  Our attorneys have seen the stress, pain and anxiety these children are experiencing as we meet to advise them of their legal rights and seek to obtain the information needed to represent them. Our attorneys have also witnessed the dedicated, professional and compassionate care given to these children by social services staff at New York child care agencies. 

Catholic Charities has performed this type of legal work for over a decade, for thousands of unaccompanied children. Many have sought to be reunited with their families; many others have sought safe haven and legal residence in the United States.

We now bring this expertise to bear in our work with separated children, no matter their age, as we provide know-your-rights presentations, individual legal consultations, and representation or referrals to every child we meet.  Along with our Immigrant Children Advocates’ Relief Effort (ICARE) collaborative partners and others, we will continue to provide services needed by immigrant children and youth, including representation, reunification, and respect for privacy rights.  We appreciate the support and resources we have received from our public and private partners. We are committed to ensuring that every possible remedy is available to these children. Among our highest priorities is expeditiously reuniting these children with their parents.

We recognize and appreciate the trying work carried out by Lincoln Hall, Catholic Guardian Services, and other child care providers. Their experience in serving unaccompanied minors for the past decade has given them a unique understanding and expertise on how to care for minors who have suffered trauma, including young children who were taken away from their parents.  We deeply appreciate and support the work of the dedicated staff that protects and nurtures these children in these heart-wrenching and tragically unnecessary circumstances. The educational, recreational, therapeutic and social services they provide are committed to ensuring the wellbeing of these children until they are reunited with their families as quickly as possible.

Recent minor policy reversals do very little to allay our distress.   It is clear that New Yorkers must stand together on behalf of vulnerable children and their families and to insist on undoing negative federal policies and the damages they have caused.

Monsignor Kevin Sullivan
Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York


How You Can Help

Administration policies at our southern border have caused the separation of thousands of children and their families. Many of these children have been brought to New York and have been placed in temporary care while their parents are placed in federal custody down south. Catholic Charities is meeting with these children each day, working to represent them and help shelter staff reunify them with their families.

We are grateful for your support and desire to help Catholic Charities. We encourage our fellow legal service providers, New York firms, law school partners, and other volunteer advocates to join us.

How to Get Involved

While we continue to assess the needs of children and begin to learn what administration policies, if any, will be implemented to address their situation, please complete this brief volunteer survey telling us a little bit about who you are and how you wish to support Catholic Charities.

Catholic Charities uses both attorney and non-attorney volunteers, and we will be seeking support in the following ways:

  • Pro bono case placement
  • Pro bono legal research
  • Assessing the needs of parents with separated children
  • Foster care or sponsorship assistance
  • Interpretation and translation assistance
  • Immigrant integration assistance 
  • In kind and financial support

Help those Impacted

In Solidarity with Immigrants & Refugees

Donate Now