Help Undocumented Immigrant Children in the Foster Care System

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Despite our best efforts, foster care is on the rise.  While this is bad enough, the picture gets worse when you look at undocumented immigrant children in foster care. With family members being detained and deported more and more undocumented immigrant children are finding their way into the foster care system.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an office under the Department of Health and Human services, has been charged with making sure immigrant children without family or resources are placed in safe homes throughout the country. The ORR consistently turns to the foster care system to place these children. But the foster care system in our country is flawed! For immigrant children separated from their families, it is a system that sets them up for a lifetime of failure and dreams unfulfilled. Typically, these children remain in the system and undocumented until they age out at age 21.  At that time, they are unable to get any public assistance, work legally, go to school or have a pathway to citizenship.

Ironically, there is a law guaranteeing these children a path to citizenship after their time in foster care. The federal policy granting Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (CFR, 2012) to undocumented immigrant children in foster care is the only policy which addresses this situation.  If the documentation required to adjust a child’s status is filled out while they are still in the foster care system, once they age out of the system the child will have a pathway to citizenship. 

Unfortunately, there is no law requiring child welfare and foster care agencies to fill out the documentation for children in their care. So it is not being done! More often than not, undocumented immigrant children leave the foster care system without their status being adjusted and with no way to improve their situation.

The Foster Child Opportunity Act (H.R. 2036) is a policy designed to change this.  Introduced by Congressman Beto O’Rourke in 2013, this policy would amend Title IV of the Social Security Act and require states to screen all undocumented immigrant children in the child welfare system for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.  To date, this policy has not become a law!  Sign this petition and spread awareness of this situation and improve the lives of undocumented immigrant children in our foster care system. The Foster Child Opportunity Act needs to become a law today!



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