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Extreme workload for non-profits assisting minor immigrants

Those who work with Pennsylvania non-profit agencies may understand the stresses facing organizations in Miami as they attempt to reunite young immigrants with their families. The flow of children from Central American countries into the United States has consistently increased in the last two years, resulting in heavy workloads for relevant non-profits. Organizations now often lack the funding to pay the workers needed to handle the increasing demand for their services. Layoffs have affected some of these organizations, and in many cases, workers put in a significant amount of unpaid hours.

In some cases, minors have come to the United States to reunite with family members who have been here for a long time. In other cases, children are leaving their homes to escape the violence and danger faced on a daily basis. As they arrive, emergency shelters are being used to house the large numbers. Non-profits step in by searching for children in various states on behalf of families already here. In other cases, organizations assist with legal paperwork required by the government often saving sponsors hundreds of dollars in notary fees.

While the needs are high, the limitations on manpower and resources make it difficult for non-profits to take as many cases as they would like. In finding legal representation for immigrant minors, for example, it can be difficult to locate lawyers who are available for pro bono work. This can be an obstacle because the United States often uses experienced lawyers as it handles deportation cases. Children at the center of these family-based immigration cases may not have lawyers appointed on their behalf.

Facing legal proceedings without representation can be challenging for newcomers to the country. If pro bono representation is not available, it may be wise to seek the help of an experienced immigration lawyer in applying for permanent residency.

Source: NBC News, "Miami Non-Profits Work Overtime to Reunite Border Kids, Parents", Carmen Sesin, July 30, 2014

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