LatinaLista — The United States doesn't just attract the illegal entry of adults looking for work. This country is also a beacon to more than 8,000 children every year, from as young as toddlers to teens, who illegally enter the country without their parents.
Too often, the reason why most of these children arrive on this nation's proverbial doorstep is to find their parents, flee severe abuse or persecution back home and also look for work to help their families. Others are victims of trafficking for forced prostitution or other illicit activities.
Yet, once these children are caught by the Border Patrol, they face a scary and confusing legal system that hardly any English-speaking adult can understand, let alone a child from another country.
That's where KIND lends a hand.
Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) is a non-profit national organization founded about a year ago. KIND helps find these "unaccompanied" children a free lawyer who will help them make their claim for U.S. protection if they have one; if they don't, the lawyer will help ensure that they are returned to their country of origin as safely and compassionately as possible.
With field offices in 7 cities nationwide (Baltimore, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, New York City, and Washington, DC), KIND is currently working with more than 700 children and has trained over 900 lawyers while partnering with more than 45 law firms and corporations.
More than half of the children KIND represents are from Latin America and Central America.
KIND realized that there exists a crisis regarding a lack of legal representation among unaccompanied children facing the U.S. legal system -- and they have vowed to be the voice for these children.
They work to ensure that unaccompanied children in the United States are treated fairly and that their rights are protected and respected. KIND also advocates for changes in U.S. laws to better protect the rights of unaccompanied children.
Because the need is so great and specialized, KIND needs more lawyers and financial help to accomplish their goal that no child should have to face immigration court alone.
Information on how to volunteer or donate to KIND is available on their website and Facebook page.