What do Angelina Jolie and I have in common? We’ve both visited an immigration detention center in the United States for unaccompanied minors. These centers house children who are picked up by federal immigration authorities without their parents. Often, the children are trying to reunite with their parents in the United States.
Last school year, I visited the Boystown shelter for unaccompanied minors in Miami and wrote about the school there run by the Miami-Dade public school district.
Ms. Jolie, well-known for her off-screen involvement in humanitarian causes, has visited a shelter for unaccompanied minors in Phoenix run by Southwest Key Programs.
She recently decided* to give $150,000 to a center at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants that has a mission to provide pro-bono lawyers and social services to unaccompanied minors. A press release says Ms. Jolie has given half a million dollars to the committee over the years.
Believe me, some of those kids can probably use a good lawyer. At Boystown, I interviewed a youth who had been detained at the shelter for eight months and another who had been held for 14 months—and pro bono lawyers got them out.
One of the teenagers who I interviewed had learned to read at the shelter, but he was still really glad to have gained his freedom.
*(Previously I said this news was announced today, but I see the press release is from 12/31. I got it today.)
A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.