County, Nonprofits Take Steps to Help Children in Border Crisis

The number of unaccompanied immigrant minors crossing into the United States has increased nearly five times over during the last three years. In the 2012 federal fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2011 – Sept. 30, 2012), the Office of Refugee Resettlement assisted 13,625 children. That number nearly doubled in 2013. Projections for the current fiscal year (2014) estimate 60,000 referrals to ORR by Sept. 30.

The majority of these children come from Guatemala (37 percent), El Salvador (26 percent) and Honduras (30 percent). Only 3 percent are from Mexico. Most are older than 14 and approximately three-quarters of them are boys. Pictures posted on Facebook and Twitter have now become familiar, showing border shelters where young children are kept in kennel-like environments and sleep on cement floors with only Mylar blankets for warmth. We can—and must—do better.

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to support further exploration of ways to bring some of these unaccompanied immigrant children (UIC) from the border shelters and place them in licensed host homes. I applaud their efforts to help alleviate the crisis. In response to a request by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, the county executive brought department heads and nonprofit human services agencies together to discuss what we could do at the local level. A modest proposal has been put forward that would bring up to 50 unaccompanied immigrant children from the shelters and place them with host families in Santa Clara County while they await reunification with their families.

Federal law states that UICs must be served “in the least restrictive environment,” and host homes are less restrictive and more family-like compared to detention centers. This is especially important when it comes to younger children, for whom stable, trusting relationships are even more central. Should this proposal be given the green light, the county will seek federal funding to cover the cost of services.

Bill Wilson Center has provided residential care and services for runaway and homeless youth for over 40 years. For the UIC proposal, Bill Wilson Center will recruit new host homes and license them as foster homes. All costs would be paid for by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County and Bill Wilson Center have submitted a joint proposal to ORR to request funding for the program.

In addition to housing, children will receive case management services focused on reuniting with family members either here in the US or back in their home country. Each child in the program has the right to a hearing in federal court to determine whether they qualify for refugee status. A more detailed plan will be brought back to the Board of Supervisors for approval later this month. While most of the cost of the program will be borne by the federal government, a modest amount of funding could help begin the process of screening and certifying host home families.

It is important that residents understand that this new program will not affect our current services to runaway and homeless youth. Additionally, recruitment of new host home families may benefit our long-term foster care program. There is always a need for new foster parents.

If you are interested in serving as a host home please email Debbie Pell: [email protected].

Sparky Harlan, Executive Director/CEO at Bill Wilson Center, is a nationally recognized advocate for youth in foster care and in the juvenile justice system, as well as homeless and runaway youth.


  1. Sparky:

    You are a total sellout.

    FIrst of all, you incorrectly describe the “children” as “unaccompanied immigrant minors”.

    This is pure, cynical tribalist sophistry, intended to obscure the origin and true plight of the “children” who, under the laws of our country, are ILLEGAL ALIENS.
    Secondly, you totally and — again, clynically — ignore the circumstances of the “unaccompanied-ness” and relocation of these “minors” to U.S. territiory.

    They were TAKEN from their parents in their home countries by — who knows? drug traffickers, human traffickers, sex slavers — and TRANSPORATED through the national territories of colluding crime controlled countries and handed off to — PEOPLE LIKE YOU at the southern U.S. border.

    You are NOT the solution to the human trafficking problem. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!

    In a just society, you would be arrested for conspiracy to commit child abuse, child endangerment, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and a long, long list of other human abuses and thrown in jail with Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Brown, Harry Reid, Dave Cortese, Sam Liccardo, and the rest of the disgusting, inhumane scum and vermin of the political class who are orchestratring this moral outrage.

    It’s the appetite of U.S. consumers of illegal drugs who are driving the perfidious schemes of violent criminal gangs in Latin America to turn children into human waves to overwhelm U.S. border security to allow the free flow of highly dangerous and profitable drugs into U.S. society.

    Violent. Destructive. Cynical. Deceitful. Exploitative, Dehumanizing.

    It’s what the Democratic Party has become.

    It’s what the political elites have become.

    It’s what YOU have become.

    • Your comment leaves me wishing that you’d go back inside your bubble; but wait … you’re already there…

    • sjoutsidethebubble: is your God big enough to allow you to imagine that God loves those u fear and despise?

      • Dear Rosstafarian:

        Is your God so big and good and powerful that He can exempt you from any moral stricture that he has imposed on you?

        Does your God require you to be non-judgmental, or does He require you to be judgmental, or does He just allow you do choose based on the politics of the situation and whether you’re judging Obama’s policies or someone else’s policies?

        • sjoutsidethebubble: who cares about all your endless political rhetoric and mudslinging, read the Bible and don’t be so hateful. Jesus told us to care for three types of people: the orphan, the widow, and the stranger.

          • Bible also said spare the rod, spoil the child. You can marry a girl after her first menstrual cycle, and you’re allowed to rape if you either marry the girl or pay the father 40 sheckles.

            Bible gets some things right, misses others. I wouldn’t count on it as a manual for doing the right thing 100% of the time though.

            What should be happening is some military action, like we’ve done in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the problem is we’d be bringing the fight so close to home that they could basically walk over here.

            Ideally we’d get one of our allies (Say Spain) to send troops in to clean up the situation.

  2. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

    • Did Jesus say let the child abusers and sex criminals take children from their parents and use them to facilitate their lawless and destructive criminal activities?

      Jesus DID pick up a whip and sting the hide of a bunch of cynical, posturing Pharisees..

      “Whitened sepulchers full of dead men’s bones.”

        • Dear Rosstafarian:

          DId God call you to take children away from their parents in Guatamala, turn them over to criminals, drag them though 1,500 miles of dangerous, desert, wilderness, and then turn them over to operatives of the Democrat party, to put them in foster homes (for $1,100 cash money per caretaker), and indoctrinate them to be Democrat Party vote slaves?

          I’m sorry. I never got that phone call from God.

          • sjoutsidethebubbile: brother maybe, just maybe, after you begin to care for and love the people Jesus asked us to, you will discover that you, aren’t gonna get some phone call from God. sorry.

  3. Time to cover our boarders without Obama asking for 2.5 billion. I think he just likes printing money. Now we are “not at war in Iraq” yet we are bombing again. We don’t need “boots on the ground” when we can do it from air. Forget about the 800-1000 “boots on the ground he send to protect US interests. Here we go again. This country is in a heck of a lot of trouble under this administration.

      • Never! Sparky will never let an opportunity to promote BW Center, it’s a government funded “non-profit” after all and the spigot needs PR. These folks who want to help at a distance are the bulk of the problem… Give change to the guy begging at a stop light, bring attention to the Jungle, bring home an illegal- it sounds like charity but the unintended consequences are immense. The talking heads like Sparky are too smart to bring home a bum, but they’ll try to convince YOU to. It’s good for the non-profit business.

  4. Can you tell us Sparky – how many local children in SCC are currently waiting to be placed in foster homes? It has to be roughly a thousand or more. And how long have these kids been waiting? Doesn’t the old adage “take care of your own first” mean something? It seems shamelessly political for our supervisors to rush in “taking care” of these children rather than return them to their families.

    And what about the children from Gaza? Syria? Ukraine? There must be a million abused/mistreated children in India alone.
    Shame, shame, shame.

  5. My questions are:

    When are we going to withdraw financial aid to these countries that are allowing this to happen to their citizens?

    Why is the United States being attacked for this “crisis” instead of the blame being placed where it belongs?

    I’m sick and tired of the world dumping its problems at our doorstep. When are other countries going to step up and help these poor children?

    • sister and brothers: 90 children are murdered or disappeared (in just) Honduras every month. This is the equivalent of over 30 children being executed in San Jose every 30 days. With that said. I personally believe that it is un-American; it is un-biblical; and it is inhumane to just stand by and wait for pass the buck off to some other country. We need to love all children and recognize and call out this KKK and “Nativist” hate like thinking.

      • ROSSTAFARIAN: At no time did you ever hear me say that we shouldn’t help these children, so kindly don’t put words in my mouth. This “crisis” needs NATIONAL involvement.

        Our country doesn’t take care of the MILLIONS children/seniors that go hungry, live in abusive homes, who need medical/dental care in the United States today.

        For these countries to continue to get millions of dollars in aid from the US, while they stand by allowing these horrors to happen to their own citizens is inexcusable. For other countries to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to this suffering is also inexcusable.

        It takes a village ROSSTAFARIAN, not just the US.

        • kathleen please. its not about you. i was replying to all the “Send The Children Back!” posts. Or “retired” post proposing to send troops to “secure” a border where these children, who willingly give themselves up to border officials, and aren’t even trying to cross illegally.

      • I’m just sick of people using God, politics, and BS to avoid the real issue here Robert. I am serious when I say that I’m sick of other countries escaping responsibility for their problems, and everyone expecting the US to solve them.

        We as a NATION should help EVERYONE, TOGETHER!

  6. In the last few months, I have heard several public service announcements on the radio informing listeners that there are insufficient foster homes in Santa Clara County to care for the foster children born HERE. And now four morons on the Bd. of Supes decides to add 1500 illegals to the foster child population…so they could pat each other on the back for being so “humanitarian”. A large portion of Sleep Train’s advertising campaign is devoted to pleas to give them shoes and clothes and backpacks for foster kids. Charity begins at home. Only Supervisor Wasserman got it right. Wanna guess how much of their personal money the four who voted for this idiocy are willing to pony up to pay for these 1500 kids’ care?

    • Suppose I went to a supervisors meeting on this subject. And suppose I didn’t want to wait in line to voice my views. Would the supervisors let me cut in line? of course not – I’d be told to follow the rules and wait my turn. Yet politicians such as this have no problem w/ millions of people cutting in line to get into the country. This is an ethical problem that reeks of political Poo.
      Nearly everyone in the world would like to come to the US. Why? Because we have a system that functions fairly well. that is until politicians playing favorites to boost their own base. During Reagan’s term we passed an immigration bill. We gave amnesty and lots of other things. The only thing we didn’t do was secure our borders. Maybe we don’t need immigration “reform” maybe we all we need to do is enforce the laws we have on the books.
      Yes the little children surrendered themselves to border guards – thus making them nannies. We all feel bad about these children and taking them in only invites more illegal immigration – and we encourage it with the “rights” and entitlements we lure them here with.
      So give all the children and others who “cut in line” and broke the rules the benefit of lawyers, schooling, medical and other benefits – WHILE you are listening to the reports of lack of treatment and care our Vets receive. What these politicians are doing is not only ethically wrong – it is morally corrupt.

  7. I am a licensed foster family mom. I am more that happy to take care of American citizen children in Santa Clara County that are in need. I resent any support given to illegal aliens. I will not give care for any politically correct opportunist, no matter what the situation.

  8. What nobody seems to understand is that our country have signed multiple treaties in which we have agreed to aid people leaving their countries for fear of violence, which in most of the cases is the situation of the children who are leaving their home countries. To assume that this a mere political strategy or that people would willingly put their life in danger to come to a place where they are not only not welcomed but treated worse than animals is not only ignorant but stupid.
    The reason why there are not enough foster homes for domestic children is because people like you (I mean the ones advocating for children in need of homes) do not step up to open your home to this children, so with what moral authority do you dare talk about this?
    Instead of spreading your ignorance and your hate you should get informed about the situation and if you are really worried about the children here who are waiting to be placed in foster care then DO SOMETHING!!! Become a foster home.

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