The challenges faced by immigrants in our country aren’t solely those of older generations. This isn’t just your grandparent’s or great-grandparents’ story. Every day children come to America in search of a better life, leaving their families behind. When a young person enters the U.S. as an unaccompanied minor, the complexities mount. Without a legal guardian, an unaccompanied minor may be unable to receive necessary health services, left to struggle to find their way without the benefits associated with good mental and physical health.
Miguel is a young man who arrived in America without his family. His father, Juan, lives in El Salvador. At the time of Miguel’s departure, Juan signed over guardianship to one relative. But when Miguel left that home and went to live with another relative in a different state, Juan had to sign new guardianship papers. When the third move occurred, Juan couldn’t file the paperwork. He simply couldn’t afford the expense of completing the legal documents and mailing them from one country to another.
When we met Miguel, he needed mental health services. Without a legal guardian he was in danger of not receiving the necessary care that he required. Fortunately, with our strong partnership with PUSD and Families in Transition, we were able to step in and help Miguel navigate the complicated MediCal system and get the care he needed. We celebrate Miguel’s opportunity to thrive, while also taking to heart an important reminder. Just because a child enters our community as an unaccompanied minor, we cannot assume that their parent has abdicated their parental responsibilities. The truth is much more complicated.