Among immigrants, no group is more vulnerable than children. Crossing borders to escape poverty, violence, persecution and political unrest is a desperate and dangerous situation for all people – but for the youngest immigrants the perils are especially great. Learn more about Lacey and Larkin: www.azmusichalloffame.org/inductees/michael-lacey/ and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/jim-larkin/
Sometimes the parents of children pay smugglers to get them out of their troubled homelands. At other times, children are separated from parents once they enter the United States. And consider the fact that the children of immigrants are treated as adults in the U.S. Court system. Most of these youths can’t speak English, much less act as their own legal representatives.
The Young Center is one agency helping these kids. This nonprofit organization was formed 15 years ago to provide aid and assistance for the children of immigrants. It advocates for the kids in courts and deportation hearings. Children of immigrants are recognized to have a special situation and vulnerabilities as immigrants.
The good work of The Young Center has recently received financial support from the Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund, an organization established more than a decade ago that helps the immigrant community at large along with organizations like The Young Center.
The fund was established by two Arizona journalists, Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. They are the former owners and co-founders of a chain of alternative newspapers across the United States known as the Village Voice Media.
Larkin and Lacey created the Frontera Fund using money from a huge legal settlement that received after being falsely arrested by the notorious former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the man once known as “America’s Toughest Sheriff” — and who was later convicted of criminal contempt of court. Arpaio was recently pardoned by President Donald Trump, an action that produced widespread condemnation.
However, Larkin and Lacey received $3.75 million thanks to Sheriff’s Arpaio’s abuse of his office. Now that money is being used to help a variety of immigrant and Hispanic groups across the U.S., including The Young Center. Read more: Michael Lacey | LinkedIn and Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund
Partially thanks to financial support from the Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund, The Young Center opened a new office in Phoenix in 2016. Arizona is the second largest point of entry for immigrants next to Texas.
Arizona can be especially difficult for children because the state does not operate family detention centers. That means children are more often separated from parents.
Another challenge is that about 70% of immigrants entering Arizona are from Guatemala.
This means that a large percentage of immigrants speak neither Spanish nor English, but an indigenous language. This offers special challenges in dealing with their plight of being in a strange country with no friends, family, legal rights or means of support.
The Larkin and Lacey Frontera Fund is proud that it helps The Young Center recruit advocates for minors and trains them to help face the many challenges ahead of them. They do that by developing relationships with local NGOs which provide a variety or services for immigrant youths.
The Young Center is headquartered in Chicago and has eight locations across the U.S.