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Separated Immigrant Youth At Seattle Shelter Face Uncertainty With Latest Deadline

Alex Garland
Seattle Weekly
People gathered at a recent rally at SeaTac

Thursday is the deadline for the Trump administration to reunite families who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border because of its “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Some kids were taken from their parents and sent to various facilities across the country: detention centers, converted warehouses and shelters.

Seattle Weekly reporters Melissa Hellmann and Josh Kelety have a story about one shelter run by YouthCare in Seattle that’s holding five kids. They sat down with KNKX Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick to talk about their reporting.

Interview highlights

YouthCare's Casa de los Amigos is not a detention center: "They really emphasize that they were different from what you might see in the news about Walmarts that have a lot of unaccompanied youth in it. So they offer services for the youth. They also have education for them. They allow them time to play. They also connect them with sponsors either in the area or sponsors who are family members who they can unite them with. And then they also have access to attorneys through KIND, which is Kids in Need of Defense."

YouthCare isn't the only area shelter housing unaccompanied youth: "There are two other nonprofit facilities that have housed unaccompanied immigrant youth in the Puget Sound area that we know of. One is a Friends of Youth center in Renton. That is a therapeutic foster care facility, so it's longer term. It's for unaccompanied immigrant youth who need more intensive behavioral health services. There's also a facility in Fife run by Pioneer Human Services."

What happens if the deadline is missed: "That's the really challenging part about it because we're not sure what's going to happen with them. There were 11 kids in all in the state who were unaccompanied youth who were separated as a result of the policy. There are now seven, as we know of, but it's changing by the day. It's constantly in flux. So if by July 26, if there's still some youth who haven't been reunited with their parents or who haven't found sponsors then they might have to stay in these ORR, Office of Refugee Resettlement, facilities."

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Ariel first entered a public radio newsroom in 2004 while in school at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. It was love at first sight. After graduating from Bradley, she went on to earn a Master's degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Ariel has lived in Indiana, Ohio and Alaska reporting on everything from salmon spawning to policy issues concerning education. She's been a host, a manager and now rides shotgun with Kirsten Kendrick as the Morning Edition producer at KNKX.