Child with flag
jvoves on Flickr

More than 400 women and children from Central America are currently being held at a temporary detention center in southeast New Mexico. Most fled to the United States to escape violence in their home countries. They are seeking asylum in the United States but face many legal and personal challenges. A group of attorneys from North Carolina traveled to the remote town of Artesia, New Mexico to represent the detainees. Host Frank Stasio talks with two of the attorneys, Evelyn Smallwood and Natalie Teague, about their experiences.

Picture of gavel

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied child immigrants have turned themselves in at the U.S. Border this year.

Once they’ve been arrested, the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement looks for places to put these kids until their day in immigration court.

The O.R.R. reports 1,648 children were placed in North Carolina between January and August.

Lili Morales is a senior at Northern High School in Durham, N.C. As a part of WUNC's Youth Radio Project, she reports on the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.  Young people who entered the country illegally with their parents are eligible for the program if they are in school -- but they have to renew every two years.  It's a stressful process for some.

Hana Pichova is a UNC professor and author that escaped communism 35 years ago and she's been making the most of her opportunities ever since.

Hana Pichova grew up under a totalitarian regime in Czechoslovakia during the 1970s. 

For Pichova, opportunities for learning and discovery were rare under the control of the communist government.

At 18, she and her parents fled to Switzerland. Pichova decided she wanted to  immigrate to America. Unbeknownst to her parents, she went to the German border to seek political asylum. When they learned of her move, they decided to follow her, despite their reservations. 

Icars / Flickr Creative Commons

Some local governments in North Carolina are considering resolutions that urge the federal government to stop allowing unaccompanied minors into the country illegally. 

Commissioners in Rowan and Brunswick counties have passed such resolutions in recent weeks.  They came shortly after Governor Pat McCrory estimated as many as 1,500 children from Central American countries had settled in North Carolina. It's been reported that violence in those countries has forced the children to flee.

Thar Thwai at work on his radio story in the WUNC studios.
Carol Jackson

About a thousand refugees resettle in North Carolina each year, and one third of them are from Burma and Thailand.  The Triangle is home to four of the nation's 10 refugee and immigrant resettlement organizations.  There are two in Durham, and two in Raleigh.

Resettlement agencies distribute State Department grants, a one-time payment of $925 per refugee.  For the first 90 days, the State Department provides housing and language assistance. But 90 days isn't a very long time when you are coming from a refugee camp. 

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

  Governor Pat McCrory says state officials don't have enough information about what he calls unaccompanied children. He says at least 1,200 children have crossed the US border since January and are now placed with sponsors in the state.

State officials are publicly calling on the federal government to help address the issue. McCrory says they don't have details, including how old the children are, where they're staying or if they're safe.

The recent increase in the number of unaccompanied, undocumented minors immigrating across the border has left tens of thousands of children waiting in limbo. But thousands of children who are already American citizens also face an uncertain future — because their parents are not in the country legally.

If their parents get deported, those minors could end up in foster care, or adopted by strangers.

Paul Cuadros (pictured third from the left) and his team, Los Jets
Nuvo TV

  UNC journalism professor Paul Cuadros came to North Carolina 15 years ago to write about Latino migration.

A few years into his research, he launched Los Jets, the varsity soccer team at Jordan-Matthews High School in Siler City. It was wildly successful, but some of his players face an uncertain future when they leave the pitch. They are all sons of Latino immigrants, some of whom came to this country illegally.

Cuadros wrote a book about his team in 2006, called “Home on the Field: How One Championship Team Inspires Hope for the Revival of a Small Town.”

Photo: A mock graduation for undocumented immigrants behind the Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh
Jorge Valencia

Five students walked 140 miles from Charlotte to Raleigh over the last 10 days to ask state lawmakers for in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

Elver Barrios, a computer engineering student at Johnson C. Smith University, and one of the advocates, says that when the group left last week, momentum seemed on their side.

"We were really excited on the first day of walking," he says.

But walking 15 miles a day means blisters on the feet and lots of sun on the face. It turns out there’s not much shade between Charlotte and Raleigh.