During January, Grace members attended programs put on by the Wichita State Center for Combating Human Trafficking. Carolyn Benefiel and several women attended an event on January 5 and summarized some thoughts for Grace. This is what they said:
Wichita State University’s The Center for Combating Human Trafficking, CCHT, offered an informational program on January 5 that helped shine a light on:
- Tthe plight of the desperate children and adults who come to our country and our community either as “undocumented” immigrants or refugees
- The extreme conditions that cause them to flee their countries
- The very different ways they are treated once they get to our country and community. Many have experienced great hardship before coming here and are very vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, even servitude.
The extreme dangers thousands of children face while fleeing Central America was showcased in the documentary, Which Way Home. Children and youth crowded to the top of railroad cars and traveled day and night to reach the United States. Sixty – eighty-five percent of the children who’ve tried to escape to our country in the last two-three years came because of the economy in their home country. They fled to escape the unfortunate choice: join gangs or die.
One in three children who flee from their home are hurt in the first 48 hours. The despair and loneliness of many of these children ispalpable. Some who manage to get here are united with family members in this country after being held in massive border holding centers.
Next a panel of professionals who work with refugees and immigrants in Wichita and Kansas shared insights. They represented:
- The Department of Children for Families,
- Episcopal Wichita Area Refugee Ministry, EWARM
- Center for Combating Human Trafficking (moderated the panel)
The panelists emphasized the challenges that face immigrants before they are legal, after they are legal, and those who come with refugee status. There is nothing easy about coming to the United States under any of these circumstances. The United States takes more refugees than any other nation.Share