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Immigration News Today: US Mayors Agree to 'Support and Welcome' Refugee Central American Children

First Posted: Oct 01, 2014 04:54 PM EDT
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A dozen U.S. mayors have agreed to support immigrant children from Central America seeking refuge.

Welcoming America, a nonprofit organization that promotes cooperation between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans, released a letter signed by 12 mayors and a county executive promising to "compassionately support and welcome the young children from Central America seeking refuge in the U.S."

"As we reflect back on the initial concerns raised around children fleeing violence, we see that our values have prevailed," said Welcoming America Executive Director David Lubell. "These leaders are demonstrating that communities have responded with compassion, and can successfully help children in need, now and into the future."

The letter acknowledged young children from Central American countries have traveled thousands of miles to seek shelter in the U.S. According to Welcoming America's letter, the Central American minors have encountered abuse during the travel north. Despite the minors' surrender to U.S. border patrol agents, the children still pursue help.

The mayors and a county executive -- Isiah Leggett of Montgomery, Maryland -- want Americans across the country to have "compassion and concern" for the immigrant children. The signees noted that many of the children have families living in their communities, and residents are called to provide shelter and care for those lacking basic necessities.

"This isn't a political issue -- it's a humanitarian one," said Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta, Georgia, one of the mayors who signed the letter. He added, "As the moral compass of our country, we recognize that being welcoming is consistent with our values as a nation and that includes taking care of the welfare of all of the children in our communities."

The children seeking refuge would still receive their legal due process. The letter recognized that the children will have their opportunity to tell their story, and the law will be followed fairly based on current guidelines by the justice system.

"The children are also young, scared, and need a trusted adult looking out for their interests, whether as a translator, legal advocate or care provider. Volunteers in our towns and cities are already stepping up to provide this help, and we commit to supporting their efforts in whatever way we can," the Welcoming America letter stated.

The letter was also signed by Mayors Martin J. Walsh of Boston, Massachusetts, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Illinois, Stephen K. Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, Michael B. Hancock of Denver, Colorado, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, California, Michael A. Nutter of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, William Peduto of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Daniel L. Bianchi of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Edward B. Murray of Seattle, Washington, Francis G. Slay of St. Louis, Missouri and Jonathan Rothschild of Tucson, Arizona.

To read the letter, click here.

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