ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington’s Newcomer services have been working with state and local partners to support family reunification, helping more than 200 displaced children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras since 2015.
Alejandro Avalos, someone who has been reunited with his family members, said, “We’re having a better life because of them you know, because of the help, so we’re really grateful for them.”
Originally from El Salvador, the Avalos siblings moved to Virginia in 2017 after their mother moved to the states in 2005 to create a better life for them.
Erlinda Avalos, their mother said, “When they came here and I saw them, I realized they aren’t my babies anymore. But I tried to tell myself when they grow up I need to be different.”
While wanting to build a strong bond with Erlinda, the siblings said their biggest challenge was adapting to society and learning the English language.
Stephen Carattini, President/CEO of Catholic Charities, said, “We want to provide the bilingual community referrals for them. We may be talking with the schools and other medical providers to help bridge the gap.”
Officials said most children who have utilized newcomer services have experienced trauma after leaving their families and home countries. Through reunification services, the Avalos family is able to speak with a psychologist.
“We have family therapy so we can know each other, and they give us an opportunity to go there and everything was for free,” said Alejandro.
Now reunited, the family says they’re grateful for Catholic Charities for bringing them back together. A release said:
With the recent reinstatement of the Central American Minors (CAM) program, Catholic Charities will also re-open cases it was handling when the program was suspended in 2017. Under CAM, legal residents of the United States with minor children residing in El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras can apply for their children to take up residence with them, protecting them from potential trafficking or victimization in their countries of origin. Families interested in applying for this program can contact Catholic Charities’ Migration and Refugee Services at 571-364-8010.