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Immigrant children and placement issues

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Maryland residents may wonder about the outcomes for immigrant children who have poured across the nation's southern border with Mexico in recent years. The crisis began to surge in 2014 as numerous unaccompanied minors made their way from Central American destinations through Mexico to seek asylum in the U.S. A recent report indicates that the majority of these children are being placed with adults that lack legal status in the country.

Statistics show that in approximately 80 percent of the cases involving these unaccompanied minors, placement was with individuals who were not in the country legally. However, advocates note that the children are typically being placed with relatives. In more than 50 percent of cases, a child is released to a parent, and in other cases, extended family members are caring for these young people. One of the challenges for parents is the need to provide documentation of their identity and relationship to their child, which can slow the processing time needed for release. Those undocumented adults taking charge of minor children are being asked to explain their plans for the children in case of their own dealings with deportation proceedings.

A family dealing with the immigration system could face challenges in understanding the requirements for verifying their identities and proving their relationships to children coming across the border. It may also be difficult to clearly explain reasons for seeking asylum. However, social workers not associated with the USCIS may be helpful in assisting families with understanding the steps needed to successfully obtain asylum.

People who are unsure of their options in terms of potential naturalization or legal residency might find a lawyer to be an excellent resource. This would provide an avenue for knowing exactly what documentation is needed and acceptable for substantiating one's responses on application forms.

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