‘Border children’ struggle to adjust to life in Charlotte

North Carolina's response to the unaccompanied children at the border last year has been a mix of victories and heartbreaking moments.

News Story (North Carolina)

Mark Price
Charlotte Observer
September 11, 2015

Tags: Children & Juvenile, Immigration Process, Minorities: Racial/Ethnic

Organizations mentioned/involved: Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (formerly Legal Services of Southern Piedmont) (North Carolina)


Advocates also have seen kids at the opposite end of the spectrum, who told immigration officials they’d changed their minds and did not want to stay here, no matter the dangers that faced them back home. In such cases, the children have 120 days to leave and their family must find a way to pay for the trip home.

“Some have come to court with their plane tickets in hand. They just want to go back home,” said Kathryn Coiner-Collier of the Immigrant Assistance Project at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont.

“America wasn’t what they thought it would be, all rainbows and butterflies,” she said. “Imagine being reunited with a family member you’ve never met, living in their homes, following their rules, having to respect them. And then (the children) are thrown into a school where they don’t speak the language.

“Can you imagine taking ninth-grade biology when you don’t speak English? And then they go home at night and nobody can help them with their homework?”