Stand Up For Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

I was heartened that President Obama announced in November a measure that would mean fewer citizen children will be separated from their undocumented parents. But I am opposed to many measures this Administration and Congress have taken regarding unaccompanied immigrant children, because they result in refugee children being deported back to countries they fled because of threats and violence. The Administration pushed to undo the law (Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act Of 2008,) that requires unaccompanied immigrant children to get a full hearing before an immigration judge. When that didn't work, President Obama ordered immigration courts to ram cases through as quickly as possible. Some judges are giving kids one week to present a fully developed asylum case, something impossible to do in less than year. This has got to stop. READ MORE 

There is Hope For Honduras

My reporting last summer in Honduras left me deeply pessimistic about the possibilities of positive change. The country has the highest homicide rate in the world. More than 90% of all murders are never investigated, much less prosecuted. I have always believed that the solution to our immigration dilemma lies primarily with addressing root causes of migration, eliminating the forces pushing people to leave their homeland.  As the Obama administration proposes tripling foreign aid to the Central American region in 2016 - a budget that will begin to be debated by Congress this week - I have come to believe that taxpayer money, spent wisely, with accountability and benchmarks, can help significantly improve conditions driving so many children to flee places like Honduras.

 

A recent dinner at my home in Los Angeles with a leader of a Honduran nonprofit, Kurt Ver Beek of the Association for a More Just Society (AJS), helped me understand how you and I can help transform Honduras, one of our most troubled neighbors to the south. With our support, there is reason for hope for Honduras. READ MORE 
Support KIND. Attend April Gala in NYC
 
Join me at the  Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) gala in New York City on Wednesday, April 22. The evening's festivities start at 6:30 p.m. and will include a special performance by the amazing classical music composer Nico Muhly. KIND, a nonprofit founded by Microsoft and Angelina Jolie, recruits pro bono attorneys [nearly 9,000 to date!] to represent unaccompanied immigrant children. I have served on KIND's board since its inception in 2008. Tell your lawyer friends about this incredible organization and this fabulous event. BUY TICKETS  
A Girl and A Wheelchair
I have witnessed people in distress many times as a reporter. Professional journalistic standards generally consider it unethical for a journalist to help people encountered while reporting, as that would put him or her into the story and change the outcome. So I refrain from getting involved unless lives are at stake, unless someone I'm writing about is in imminent danger. But after reading my stories or hearing me speak, people are often motivated to act. They ask me what they can do to help. And it is inspiring to see the good they can do.

A case in point involves a girl named
Milagro (which means "miracle"). I met her while reporting in Honduras last summer. She was disabled, unable to walk or stand, and she dragged herself around the dirt floor of the family shack as she cared for her younger brothers and sisters. By chance, I spoke with Border Community Alliance (BCA) Executive Director Bob Phillips at a talk last fall. He told me about a company called ARSOBO that makes wheelchairs designed especially for rugged terrain, like the dirt paths in Milagro's neighborhood. I told him about Milagro. He got on the phone and reached out to ARSOBO, his Mexican partner FESAC, and Honduran counsel Tony Banegas. Months and lots of emails later, Milagro received a bright cherry wheelchair built especially for her. There are many people in places like Honduras left disabled after attempting to ride on top of freight trains north through Mexico. In one town, Progreso, Honduras, 700 people are without arms or legs or faced other injuries from the attempted journey. Readers or schools can raise funds to purchase a wheelchair at a reasonable cost, about $400. LEARN ABOUT BCA
Recent Awards

When children are dying after being deported to Honduras, I am almost embarrassed to talk about awards. But I will do so because the awards are coming from organizations that are doing incredibly important work that I want to highlight, and I am so honored by the recognition.

 

I was recently named a Champion of Children by the First Focus Campaign for Children, a national bipartisan children's advocacy group. This award usually recognizes members of Congress who advance policy to improve the health and well-being of children. In giving me the award, First Focus cited my career track record of exploring policy debates that matter for children. 

 

HIAS Pennslyvania is giving me a Golden Door award at their April 30 gala. The event will raise money for HIAS, which has been working on behalf of immigrants since 1882. If you live near Philadelphia, consider coming to the event and bringing some friends! LEARN MORE
Enrique's Journey Used As Common Read At Nearly 80 Universities
 
Enrique's Journey has now been adopted as a common or freshman read at nearly 80 universities [and 16 cities!]. Recent common read selections include Sam Houston State University, Williams College, University of Richmond, and University of New Mexico.

The Young Adult version of Enrique's Journey came out last year. This version is being published in Spanish in July.

Purchase a copy of Enrique's Journey for your friends, family or colleagues to help them understand this issue more deeply. 
Webinars Offered for Classes reading Enrique's Journey
I am offering several Webinars for teachers whose students are reading Enrique's Journey. I am using BigMarker.com for these Webinars and have limited the number of classes that can participate. There is still room in two sessions: 10 a.m. March 27 and 10 a.m. April 10. Please visit Big Marker to register. Again, this is only for teachers whose classes are reading Enrique's Journey. Each teacher should register once and prepare to project the screen to the entire class. If you have any questions, please email my assistant, Sharon Jones.
Want to See Me Speak?
At University of Texas Pan-American 
I have been locked up writing, working on my current book, but I am excited about my spring speaking schedule as well. Some talks are private discussions that I hope will inspire others to help unaccompanied immigrant children. For example, I have an April meeting at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 
 
But many talks are public. Here are some places you may see me this spring: Albuquerque Museum, Bozeman, MT , Hickory, NC , Kansas City, KS , Lakeville, MN , Tacoma, WA, and San Francisco. View my full schedule.

Email me if you need a speaker for an event.