Photo: Undocumented minor (Eychaner Foundation)
When Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad refused to receive undocumented, unaccompanied Central American children in his state, the Eychaner Foundation launched the “1,000 Kids For Iowa” campaign, which in a scant 10 days received 600 offers of assistance.
More than 100 homes also offered to house undocumented minors.
“It made us sad when on July 14 we heard the governor of Iowa announce that child refugees from Central America would not be accepted in Iowa,” the program director for the foundation, Jessica Brackett, told Efe.
“We don’t believe that attitude represents the opinion of the great majority of Iowans and we feel obliged to refute the idea that it does,” she said.
The Eychaner Foundation launched the campaign the day after the the Republican governor made his statement.
In the first week of the campaign, 139 offers were received to house children, according to the foundation, which said that as of Thursday night 153 homes had volunteered to take in 179 children.
The foundation told Efe that its work is not connected to any of the children who have already come to Iowa.
It also noted that there are many different ways people can offer assistance to the undocumented minors, including housing the children, providing support services and making food and clothing donations.
In 1986, Rich Eychaner created the organization that bears his name to defend the rights of minorities, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Then in 1994 the foundation widened its scope and began offering university scholarships to minority students.
All that experience in community work to promote “tolerance and non-discrimination” and to help disadvantaged children is now being applied to helping Central American kids who come to the United States illegally and unaccompanied, Brackett said.
But that optimism faces the reality of a certain confusion about the situation of the close to 57,000 undocumented minors who entered the country across the southern border.
For example, according to Brackett, there is a common misunderstanding that the well-being of those youngsters is solely the responsibility of the U.S. federal government, and for that reason those minors cannot be taken to states far from the border nor will they be allowed to live in private homes.
In all, 30,340 undocumented minors in the first half of the year have been given into the care of sponsors across the country, according to statistics of the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Settlement.