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North Carolina counties differ in treatment of young immigrants

The Office of Refugee and Resettlement recently reported that in the last fiscal year, 57,496 children who had crossed American borders unaccompanied were released to sponsors throughout the nation. North Carolina was the residential location of 2,160 of those sponsoring the young immigrants. Durham has shown its avid support in the welcoming of migrant children.

Many of the unaccompanied juveniles are said to have been fleeing gang violence and extreme poverty in their native lands. The Durham Public Schools system has been thanked by the city council for treating the children humanely, offering them an education and providing various services when needed. The council urged federal agencies to ensure that the refugee children have legal representation in court and that they are granted rights of due process under the law.

Unlike Durham, other counties have not jumped on the welcoming bandwagon when it comes to the several hundred kids who have wandered into the state from Guatemala, Honduras and other foreign lands. Representatives in at least one of these opposing counties have issued a resolution to keep the children out of their boundaries. They have stated that their main concerns are that the sudden influx of people will cause great strain to area resources and that the children could be potential carriers of communicable diseases.

Two North Carolina school districts are said to have refused enrollment to 17-year-old migrant students even though state law allows anyone under 21 to be educated in the public schools. The schools demanded proof of residency and other personal information, which the children reportedly did not provide. Other states have reported similar incidents. Undocumented immigrants who are children are entitled to certain rights according to applicable state and federal laws. Seeking professional legal advice would most likely be of use to those who personally involved in or professionally affected by this issue.

Source:, "Durham Becomes Largest North Carolina Jurisdiction To Welcome Migrant Children", Esther Yu-hsi Lee, Jan.8, 2015

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