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Bethany reunites nearly 90 percent of refugee children separated from families

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., July 26, 2018 – Bethany Christian Services has reunited nearly 90 percent of the refugee children who were placed in its care after they were separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border within the past year. This includes nearly all children who were separated under the “zero-tolerance” policy.

“As we have maintained, we believe the forced separation of asylum-seeking parents and their children is unconscionable,” said Chris Palusky, President and CEO of Bethany Christian Services. “We will continue to use every resource at our disposal to ensure the safe and timely reunification of parents and their children. We are gratified that nine out of every 10 children in Bethany’s care have been reunified with parents, but will not rest until we have met the needs of all of the children in our care.”

Bethany continues to work with a small number of children separated before and during “zero tolerance” whose reunifications have been delayed because of extenuating circumstances, such as concerns for the health and safety of the children and special requests from the parents.

Three-percent of Bethany’s cases involve respecting the wishes of parents who have asked that their children remain in or be transferred to long-term foster care. All the kids in these cases are teenagers whose lives would be threatened if they were returned to their country of origin, based on information provided by the parents. Bethany will resume reunification efforts in these cases if another family member is identified who can provide a safe home for the child.

“Bethany staff have been working around the clock over the past several months to ensure these vulnerable children receive the critical services needed while also working to coordinate reunification with their families,” Palusky continued. “It has been deeply moving to see families reunited with their children, over the past several weeks, but we know the battle for these children and families – as they continue to work through this traumatic experience – is not over.”

Bethany has provided care and support for refugees for more than 40 years. Since 2013, the organization has reunified more than 500 refugee children and families and helped with nearly 5,000 reunifications.

Since the “zero tolerance” was announced in May of this year, Bethany has called on Congress to take immediate action. Specifically, Bethany has advocated for rapid reunification of families, compassionate care for asylum-seeking families, an end to the jailing of refugee children and their families, an assurance that there will never again be a “zero-tolerance” policy, and the expansion of community-based and mental health care for refugees. More details about Bethany’s recommendations to Congress can be found here.
** About Bethany Christian Services** Bethany Christian Services believes that every child deserves to be in a loving family. We have a heart for children, and we equip families to be the answer for children in need. One of the ways we do this is by assisting unaccompanied refugee children to reunify with family and friends in the United States. Bethany staff accomplishes this by providing in-home social services for unaccompanied children in federal custody who have been identified as survivors of trafficking, fled community violence, have endured some type of abuse, or are being reunified with a caretaker. Bethany has been providing critical services to unaccompanied children for more than 40 years and since 2013, the organization has reunified 500 unaccompanied children with their family and assisted in reunifying nearly 5,000.