Humanists Raise Funds for Unaccompanied Illegal Minors’ Legal Representation

August 6, 2014 - 3:29 PM

illegal-immigrants

A group of immigrants from Honduras and El Salvador who crossed the US-Mexico border illegally are stopped in Texas. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Foundation Beyond Belief, the nation’s largest humanist charity organization, launched a campaign last month to raise money for the legal representation of “child refugees who have fled poverty and violence to reach the Southern border of the United States in recent months.”

Two beneficiaries have been chosen to receive these funds – Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and The Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, which focus on providing lawyers for unaccompanied illegal minors in immigration hearings.

Both groups have offices in Texas, Arizona and California and already offer legal assistance. However, they need resources to handle the uptick in unaccompanied minors which have crossed the U.S. border, according to FBB.

According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), there has been a 106 percent increase in the number of unaccompanied children apprehended on the southwest border in the past year. In FY2013, there were 27,884 children apprehended, compared to 57,525 by June 30, 2014.

“While many organizations have focused on the crucial task of providing food, shelter and other basic needs for the refugee children, little attention has been paid to getting the legal help they need to navigate an immigration system they don’t understand,” FBB said in a press release on July 28.

FBB noted that the majority of UACs come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, and the majority of them must face immigration hearings alone “with no adult to advise, protect, or explain the situation to them.”

Foundation Beyond Belief has teamed up with the American Humanist Association.

According to its website, FBB said it selects five charities per quarter – one in each of the following cause areas: education, poverty and health, human rights, the natural world, and Challenge the Gap (charities based in other worldviews).

“Carefully selected for impact and efficiency, our featured beneficiaries are secular organizations with the exception of Challenge the Gap, which features non-proselytizing organizations based in other worldviews,” the FBB website said.

The American Human Assocation’s website describes the group as “Good without God.”

“We strove to bring about a progressive society where being good without a god is an accepted and respected way to live life,” the AHA website said.

“Humanism encompasses a variety of nontheistic views (atheism, agnosticism, rationalism, naturalism, secularism, and so forth) while adding the important element of a comprehensive worldview and set of ethical values – values that are grounded in the philosophy of the Enlightenment, informed by scientific knowledge, and driven by a desire to meet the needs of people in the here and now,” it added.

“As this crisis has unfolded, it has become clear that a major need for these children is not food and shelter but legal advocacy to protect their basic rights,” said Dale McGowan, executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief.

“No child should meet a national immigration system alone. KIND and The Florence Project are doing brilliant work to ensure that they are not alone, and the humanist community is proud to support them,” McGowan added.

“This campaign is an opportunity for humanists to put into practice our values of justice and human rights and to ensure that vulnerable children receive the legal representation that they need,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.

The group has raised $3,189 thus far, according to its website.

Calls to FBB for comment were not returned by press time.