Unaccompanied minors moving to CT in record numbers
January 23, 2020
Francisco – not his real name – is one of 952 unaccompanied minors who were picked up by federal authorities during the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2019 and released in Connecticut to relatives, friends or other sponsors, according to federal data. That’s almost triple the previous year, when there were 332, and more than quadruple the number in 2015, when 206 unaccompanied children came to the state.
The percentage increase in the arrival of unaccompanied minors in Connecticut is higher than the national average, which almost doubled in the past two years. Much of that increase in Connecticut and nationally is attributable to kids like Francisco, who are fleeing violence, poverty and other problems in Central American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
“They are escaping a lot of violence and horrible experiences, whether gang-related or family issues. It’s usually a very scary, life-threatening situation,” said Patricia Marealle, an attorney with the Center for Children’s Advocacy, which has helped more than 200 of these children navigate the immigration process. “They come here for protection and then they are stuck in this legal system that is not very friendly.”