Faith-Based Foster Care Rescues Immigrant Kids from 'Tent City' while Helping Reunite them with Parents
- [Reporter] For the lasttwo years, foster parents,
Silas and Coryn, havewelcomed immigrant children
into their Michigan home.
These children oftenarrive alone at the border
and the government overseestheir care while it
locates their families.
- We pick 'em up from theairport at like midnight.
So they're coming tothis brand new country,
this new state, this new home,
people that don't speak their language.
- Silas and Coryn receivedtheir training from Grand Rapids
based Bethany Christian Services.
It's become a leadingprovider of family-based care
for immigrant children.
For almost 40 years, Bethanyhas helped kids showing up
alone at the border.
Then this spring came a newand surprising development.
The children began tellingtheir foster parents how they
came with their parents andthen were taken from them
by the government.
It was part of thecontroversial and short-lived
zero tolerance policy.
- They didn't know that theyweren't gonna see their parents
again in many cases.
So, these children wereseparated, they were taken,
put on a bus or airplane,and they had no idea where
they were going or what was happening.
- [Heather] Silas and Corynwelcomed four children,
ages three to nine.
- We saw a lot of trauma,a lot of nightmares,
stomach aches, headaches.
- [Heather] Adam and Rachel'sfoster child told her
counselor how she saw Honduranpolice shoot her grandmother.
After the girl and herfather fled to the US,
she watched border agents take him away.
- As a four year old, she justhad such a heavy, heavy soul
from that and from justconstantly reliving being torn
away from her dad.
And so I think what we sawwas those two traumatic
experiences just compounded on the
four year old's shoulders.
There was times where,yeah, it would crush her.
- I was very frustratedwatching it play out on the news
and seeing both sides of thestory, because I think there
were a lot of peoplewho also didn't get it.
I think until you areface to face with it,
until you are tucking thatcrying kid in at night and
rubbing their back andlaying with them and hearing
their stories, like, youdon't understand the magnitude
of what they're going through.
- [Heather] Under the policy,the government took 2400
children from their parents.
Today, almost all are backwith family, either in the US
or their home country.
Still, foster parents are inhigh demand because of children
who come alone to the US.
Right now, a staggering13,000 are in federal custody.
Bethany can only care for 100,so the government puts many
of the kids in emergency facilities.
This is a new tent city inTexas where 1500 youth live
while they wait to bereunited with family.
- Kids should never haveto stay in a tent city.
Kids should never beapart from their parents.
It just shows you how desperatethings are that kids are
hearing about this and theparents are still sending them.
- We know in this country thatchildren are best cared for
in a family setting.
That's what we do in our owndomestic foster care city.
We don't place thousands ofchildren who are in foster care
in one large tent city,where we promote foster homes
and foster care placement,'cause we know that's
what's best for children.
These children are no different.
- [Heather] Experts blamegovernment red tape for the high
number of immigrant kidsstill in government custody.
One reason, a new rule tookeffect this year requiring
all members of a householdtaking in children
to be fingerprinted.
That has increased the wait time.
Now the Trump administrationhas changed that rule,
and there's hope that the number of kids
in shelters will drop.
All this at a time thatfoster parents are recovering
from a year they never expected.
kids being separated from their parents
is not God's vision of theworld, and so how do we step in
to the kingdom work that hehas for us to solve that?
- [Heater] Coryn and Silasmarvel at the resiliency
displayed by their childrenand hope they can recover
and receive what they need tosomeday achieve their dreams.
- One of the little boyswe just had, his dream was
to be a firefighter or policeofficer, so they have these
big dreams and we can justhope they get the opportunity
to realize those.
- Going forward, Bethany hopesto expand its foster program
for the children who continueto pour across the border.
It also wants their homecountries and the US to address
the issues that causedtheir families to flee
in the first place.
Reporting in Grand Rapids,Heather Sells, CBN News.