by: Ellen Fischer
Last Thursday was the saddest and hardest day in my career. I volunteer as a child advocate with Montgomery Child Advocacy Project, representing children in Protection from Abuse cases.
A few months ago, I was asked to represent two children, a sister and brother-ages 7 and 4, in Dependency Court. This is the court where children, who have been removed from their parents on account of drugs and neglect, have their cases heard. My case had a happy ending, and the kids were lucky to be placed with their wonderful grandmother. However, there were many kids who returned to foster care disappointed and yearning for their parents love.
The waiting room was filled with children anxious to see their parents and to hopefully be returned to their care, in spite of the poor living conditions that they were removed from. It was heartbreaking to sit and watch as children cried because their parents remain incapable of providing a safe and nurturing environment. There were probably more than a dozen cases on the list; we waited for three hours before our case was called. While waiting, I witnessed too many children crying and clinging to their mother or father because none were going home.
I also learned that Montgomery County has a refugee program, and a number of kids that escaped persecution in Pakistan sat in the waiting room. One young boy had his face burned when it was discovered he privately practiced a prohibited religion. I believe that all of the kids found their way to the United States with the encouragement of their families, who so desperately wanted them to have a better life. I was overwhelmed.
This past week has been difficult for almost all of us as we are being inundated with news about the children at our border being forcibly removed from their parents. Now we are told many of these children may never be reconnected with their parents. I left the court with tears running down my face. Kudos to the lawyers and caseworkers, who handle these cases day after day.
What can we do? How can we help? Let’s organize and use our talents and commit to finding a way to do something.
There is something you can do right now to change these childrens’ paths. Volunteer to help on immigration-related appeals with two easy steps:
- Register yourself as a volunteer online with the Immigrant Justice Campaign – https://www.immigrationjustice.us
- Add your contact information to the spreadsheet – either in the table designated for Non-Immigration Attorney Volunteers or in the table designated for Immigration Attorney Mentors (if you are an immigration attorney). We will all be immigration attorneys by the end of this!
Please reach out to me if you have additional ideas. We are so very fortunate, and these children are so very desperate.