Thousands of children make the dangerous journey from Central America to the United States without their parents or guardians. These children are fleeing violence, exploitation, traffickers, gangs and other criminal groups and when they arrive at border crossings they often face deportation. “These are not primarily economic migrants. These are refugees, deserving protection,” wrote Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times, “instead, the United States and Mexico are colluding to send people like them back to the gangs that want to kill them.”
Some 90 per cent of children arriving in the United States must make their claim for asylum without legal protection. Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) is a national legal service association that provides volunteer legal representation to children who arrive alone in the United States and are placed into deportation proceedings. In 2015, KIND received 2,384 referrals and served around 5,000 children in 2016.
In the summer of 2016 KIND launched the #KINDstories campaign to showcase drawings by children KIND has helped protect and to remind us that these children are aware of the dangers of travelling to the United States but feel they have no choice. Drawing is a unique way for us all to express ourselves when words are not enough. You can get involved by following the #KINDstories campaign online and showing your support for unaccompanied children.
KIND has been an Oak partner since 2014. "I had the opportunity to visit KIND in Washington DC last year and to see the work they are doing defending unaccompanied children in the courts,” says Rachel Quick, Head of the Special Interest Programme. “Without organisations like KIND, these children would be left to navigate the US legal system alone and would be far less likely to get the legal protection they are entitled to." Oak primarily supports KIND's regional work in Central America and Mexico to help protect children’s rights and safety before, during and after migration.