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Unaccompanied Minors, Received with Open Arms -- or Not

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services almost 30,000 unaccompanied refugee minors (URM) have been successfully reunited with their families. A few of them have been taken by sponsors, mostly in the Washington, D.C. area.

According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), these minors might be eligible to receive a U nonimmigrant status granted by a U visa "set aside for victims of crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to assist law enforcement and government officials in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity".

"ORR encourages State Refugee Coordinators to prepare their URM service provider network to place and serve unaccompanied U status recipients..." states State Letter 14-01, written by Eskinder Negash, Director of ORR, and published on February 10, 2014.

According to (a television station serving Grand Rapids, Holland, and Kalamazoo), "Gov. Snyder said he had been told by the Federal Government that 92 children have been brought to Michigan".

In spite of so many good intentions, many sponsors of these minors are being attacked by people who oppose those who help the children. In the tiny city of Vassar, MI, 75 people organized a violent protest in July against providing any assistance to the unaccompanied minors. Information on the gravity of the situation in the countries where these minors escaped from has more than likely not reached small, rural areas in Michigan, and misinformation could very well be the reason for the protests.

There is still the erroneous impression among many that unauthorised immigrants pay no taxes, and are simply a burden to the U.S. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, according to the Teaching Tolerance organization, these workers pay property taxes, which is one of the main sources of school funding. They also pay taxes like everyone else when they buy/rent a house or appartment. and pay federal, state, and local taxes, and they contribute almost $7 billion in Social Security taxes for benefits that they will never be entitled to receive, precisely because of their illegal status in the U.S.

Regarding immigrants' use of welfare, according to the Center for Immigration Studies "...the nation’s welfare programs are designed specifically to provide assistance to low-income households with children," and this includes everyone.

Also, according to pubication Business Insider, illegal immigrants pay taxes through the Individual Tax Identification Number or ITIN that has been issued by the IRS to foreigners without a Social Security number since 1996.

Just in Michigan, in 2010, unauthorized workers paid $28,064,903.00 in Personal Taxes; $12,539,394.00 in Property Taxes; and $101,057,989.00 in Sales Taxes, which gave a total of $141,662,286.00 taxes contributed by "families headed by unauthorized immigrants", according to Business Insider.

As a whole, in 2010, unauthorized workers contributed to the economy of the U.S. the total amount of $11,229,381,410.00.

Wolverine Human Services in Vassar had originally suggested that they could house around 100 hundred children, but in view of the population's violent reaction, being there could be dangerous for these migrant children, who escaped violence in their home countries, only to find violence also in the United States.

On the other hand, Battle Creek is ready to receive some unaccompanied minors with open arms. According to WoodTV, a human chain almost a mile long was set up by those trying "to raise awareness about immigration reform and the crisis of unaccompanied minors...".

In Farmington Hills and in Bay City, MI, Wellspring Lutheran Services is awaiting the arrival of several children who will stay with them until their legal situation is decided. Numerous individuals, social groups, and organizations have contacted Wellspring to offer help, but there is still great need not only for monetary donations, but also for duffel bags, and XL twin sheet sets. These specific items will make it possible for the children to take these items with them as they transition to their next placement.

Drop-off sites for donations to help these unaccompanied minors in Bay City are located at the Messiah Lutheran Church, 501 S. Catherine St., and at the Immanuel Lutheran Church, 247 No. Lincoln St. Drop-off hours are Monday to Friday (September 2 to 5), 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.

In Farmington Hills, drop-off information is still to be confirmed.

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