GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Dozens of immigrant children are being cared for in Michigan after being separated from their parents at the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
On June 22, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights issued a call to action to ensure their rights are protected.
“There are approximately 58 children as of today in Michigan who were separated from their parents at the border,” said Vicki Levengood, communications director for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
The children range in age from younger than one to 17 years old.
“These children are facing potentially devastating negative health impacts due to this traumatic separation from their families,” Levengood said.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights outlined four steps to protect the Civil Rights of immigrant children in our state.
“We are calling for an immediate connection between parents and children via Skype and other visual communication tools,” Levengood said.
The second is determining each child’s current health status.
“Proactively planning for providing health services to any children who are suffering from an illness or emotional trauma resulting from the separation,” Levengood said.
The third step is giving all kids access to effective communication.
“One child who has been brought to Michigan is deaf, we’re very concerned that child may not have adequate access to communication,” Levengood said.
They also want to ensure accommodations for children who speak languages other than Spanish and English.
And the final step encompasses the ultimate goal.
“We believe in order to protect their Civil Rights and Human Rights, we need to unite parents and children as quickly as possible,” Levengood said.
It’s a call to anyone who can help.
“We are calling to action the care facilities, we are calling to action the federal agencies… and any other nonprofits who may be able to step up and provide some of these services.”
In the call to action, the department’s director Agustin Arbulu said he has every reason to believe the kids are being cared for with integrity and compassion, but there must be a system in place to confirm their status.
The department said it does not know when the kids will be reunited with their parents, but aims to put these steps into action as soon as possible.