NEWARK, N.J. — Whether they’re escaping persecution or fleeing unspeakable violence, the stories of children crossing the southern border run the gamut.
And when most of them arrive, the only belongings they have are the clothes on their back.
In New Jersey, nearly 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children are expected to be taken into the state this year alone.
Organizations like KIDS IN NEED OF DEFENSE, better known as KIND, are on the ground ensuring no child appears in immigration court without legal representation.
“Even though you are not seeing it on the news, that doesn’t mean that our families are not in need,” Monica Vera, a senior social services coordinator with KIND, told PIX11 News.
Helping these children find their footing is an ongoing effort, according to Vera.
While the goal is to reunite children with family in the area, it’s also to guide them as they rebuild their lives.
“It’s about being able to start a new chapter … start over,” Vera explained. “Having an opportunity to build in this community and go to school, have a better future.”
Even before the pandemic, obstacles were magnanimous for the organization as it navigated the Trump Administration’s family separation policy at the border. COVID-19 has only exacerbated the hurdles, making financial stability nearly impossible for migrant families.
The group is now hosting a KIND Winter Drive on Nov. 20 in Newark that will support families in need.
“Their health is our priority so the best way to keep them healthy is to keep them warm and safe during the winter months,” Vera said.
To donate to the KIND Winter Drive, check out the organization’s Amazon wish list. If you want to learn more about KIND, you can head to SupportKIND.org. and if you want to connect directly with the Newark team on how you can get involved, email email@example.com.