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Unaccompanied Minors from Central America Still Face Uncertainty In Their Lives

More than 3,000 Central American children have moved to Long Island since last year. That’s when they came to the U.S. as unaccompanied minors to escape violence back home.

When these children arrived in the U.S., that’s when they began to get processed for deportation. And they’re still being processed.

“Some of them have return dates in immigration court in 2019. That’s how backed up the docket is,” said Jason Starr of the New York Civil Liberties Union on Long Island. “So think about that for a minute. It’s 2015, almost 2016. You’re not going to even go for your sort of first hearing until three years from now.”

Starr said he helps students get enrolled in school and get access to health insurance and other services while they’re still here. But he said the biggest challenge these kids face is that feeling they can’t put down roots.

“It’s just very hard to sort of stabilize yourself and say I’m here, I’m a part of this community, I’m engaging 100 percent civically, socially, economically, when you don’t have that one sort of piece of paper that the government says legitimizes you,” he said.

Starr said that uncertainty can isolate kids. That’s why he organized the first resource fair for children from Central America to see all the support they have on Long Island. He said another event early next year will help the children settle into these Long Island communities.

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