Migrant Children in New England

Learn how you can help unaccompanied children in New England

Learn about our Unaccompanied Children’s Program

Sometimes migrant families travel to the U.S. border together, but very often children travel alone and cross the U.S. border in search of safety and reunification with a family member in the U.S.

Since 2011, the International Institute of New England has helped unaccompanied minor children by providing the support and resources they need to reunify with loved ones in the United States.

UAC Program - The Journey Graphic

Our program delivers essential services to children and teenagers who are referred to us by immigration authorities after they have been detained and sheltered by the U.S. government under federal policy guidelines. IINE’s social workers provide clinical assessment and family safety planning, connect children with physical and mental health services, educate parents on the effects of childhood trauma and resources for healing, and help children access food and basic needs, education, and legal support for asylum.  

We have seen a tremendous increase in the number of unaccompanied children who need help. In response, we are providing a new level of service and doubling the size of our team to serve up to 600 children each year.  

– Nov. 17, 2022 – The International Institute of New England (IINE) is expanding its program to aid unaccompanied children as they arrive in the United States through the U.S. asylum system following an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) announcement expanding program eligibility to all minors being reunited with relatives or sponsors. IINE’s program expansion will allow the organization to double the number of children in its care. 

Carlos’s story: An unaccompanied youth builds a new life in the U.S.

Carlos was fifteen years old when he left Honduras on his own. Fleeing violence and seeking a better education, and medical treatment for an eye condition that left him partially blind, he was optimistic about a future in the U.S.

After crossing the the U.S. border just beyond the Rio Grande, Carlos was arrested on entry and held for the night at a detention facility in Texas before being brought to a shelter for youth in Miami. Carlos remembers exactly how long he was at the shelter: 82 days. He missed his family in Honduras, and was frightened by the uncertainty of his future.

Carlos was in the middle of a soccer game at the detention facility when he was told he would be released to live with his aunt in New Jersey. He had not seen her in person since he was very young and only had pictures to remember her by, but he was very excited; finally, he would be starting his new life in America.

Carlos and his aunt at Carlos's high school graduation

Meet Sofie Suter

A graduate of Boston College (BA) and UMass Boston (MA), Sofie Suter works in IINE’s Boston office as the Director of the Unaccompanied Children’s Program. Her job and department are unique because her clients are children, with whom she works for short, intensive period of time while they are first reunifying with their family members in the U.S.

“The most important part of my job is to make sure that when a child comes here, he or she is safe and understands his or her rights,” she said. “I work for the child.”

The Spotlight Report is a quarterly report to bring you a deeper understanding of our work. This Spotlight Report on the Unaccompanied Children’s Program explores how IINE works to reunify hundreds of children a year—some as young as two years old—with their U.S.-based families across New England.

Watch Our Virtual Town Hall on the Unaccompanied Children’s Program

Hear from IINE’s Director, Unaccompanied Children’s Program Sofie Suter, LSW, President and CEO Jeff Thielman, and Chief Advancement Officer and SVP Alexandra Weber. They reflect on the organization’s response to the continued increase in children crossing unaccompanied into the U.S. to flee threatening conditions and reunite with family members and share ways in which you can help.

Make an impact today!