Family Is a Key Driver for Child Refugees


This is Part III of Long Island Wins’ new series to help provide Long Islanders with accurate information on this humanitarian crisis.

As we mentioned earlier in this series, the U.S. is not the only desitnation for children seeking refuge from violence in Central America. Others are escaping to Nicaragua or Panama. Some choose to stay in Mexico.

The vast majority that come to the U.S. do so because they have family here—more than 90 percent have a parent or other family member stateside who will take care of them.

Most of the parents of these children have been living on Long Island for years. They came here to find work in order to take care of their family back home. Many of the parents of these children have roots in the community and are an integral part of Long Island’s social and economic fabric. A fact that will help ease the transition as these children are absorbed into American life.

Some parents, desperate to ensure their children’s safety, have made the heart-wrenching decision to send them on this journey to live with extended family because it is the only hope for their survival. But many children are reuniting with parents who live and work in the U.S. This is especially true here on Long Island.

Sister Margaret Smyth, OP, North Fork Spanish Apostolate, who has been helping to resettle children on Long Island, said that many are seeing their parents for the first time in years. For them, the excitement shines through despite the stress and exhaustion of the journey.