Officials with the United Nation’s High Commission for Refugees say a number of cities have mounted campaigns to help unaccompanied children, but the Charlotte Compassion Action Network for Children stands out for recruiting a wider variety of partners.
It includes not only charity and immigrant support organizations, but conservative evangelical groups and government leaders.
Organizers view the network as a critical need because of the presence of Charlotte’s immigration court – one of 59 such courts in the nation. It handles cases for both Carolinas, which have a combined population of about 1,650 unaccompanied children. Nearly one-third of them are living in Mecklenburg County.
The court is also a reason why the city is under consideration for a federally funded “day shelter” to temporarily house up to 50 kids at a time while they await court proceedings. The Office of Refugee Resettlement has told local immigrant advocates it is holding off on a decision about the shelter until after Oct. 1, the start of that agency’s fiscal year.
In the meantime, the Compassion Action Network intends to launch a series of campaigns to fill the needs of unaccompanied children living in Mecklenburg County, using charities and religious organizations as partners. Those campaigns will include collections of food, clothing and school supplies, as well as sponsorships of children to cover their legal expenses.
Additional partners, including congregations, are being sought to assist in the plan.