The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights in Harlingen assists unaccompanied immigrant children when they’re placed in detention centers.
The number of unaccompanied immigrant children entering the U.S. between 2015 and 2016 doubled by over 6,000, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
“Children’s voices get lost when adults are making decisions for them, especially when they’re in government custody,” said Deputy Case Director Danielle Salgado. “The center acts as the children’s voice. We form relationships with the children and we act as their voice when decisions are being made to them via an immigration court, about who they get released to.”
The organization’s Harlingen office is one of eight centers nationwide that is aimed to ensure the safety and well-being of unaccompanied immigrant children.
“We work with the most vulnerable,” said Salgado. “Often times the ones who have physical or mental disabilities, very young children. Children who are pregnant or expecting. Children who are victims of crime.”
While the organization has three attorneys on staff, it also accepts volunteers to help expand the amount of cases that can be worked on.
Volunteers must go through background checks and training before they become a child advocate, Salgado said.
In 2015, the Young Center’s Harlingen office worked with over 100 unaccompanied immigrant children from South and Central America.