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refugee

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User Yukiko Matsuoka / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement in January on protecting immigrant children following president Trump's immigration-focused Executive Orders.

The statement highlighted the effects that these crackdowns can have on kids, including fear and toxic stress. Those can harm the developing brain and negatively impact both short- and long-term health.

Immigration and refugee policy are pretty complicated topics, and it can be easy to forget about the kids who are in the middle of that political debate. Here's a look back at some recent stories about how that debate is affecting young people here in America and across the world. 

three young men in front of poster board
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

The world hit a grim milestone this year. There are now more than 60 million refugees worldwide. That's the highest number ever recorded. The U.S. will accept 85,000 of them in 2016. 

The global humanitarian crisis has led to a heated political debate in Michigan, which is one of the top states for refugee resettlement in the country. But  advocates say that debate often overlooks the benefits that refugees bring to the communities where they settle.  

Mstyslav Chernov / Wikimedia Commons

There’s been lots of talk lately about refugees, mostly about whether to let them into the U.S. and how they’re being vetted. But there is a human side to this story about what it actually feels like to be a refugee. So today on State of Opportunity, we're going to spend some time with a refugee who's called Michigan his home for the past four years.

Wikimedia Commons

By now you've seen the images. Millions of refugees fleeing war zones in Syria and Iraq, trying desperately to reach a new life anywhere else. And the photo yesterday of a small boy, lying limp on a beach, drowned while trying to escape with his family. 

This boy's family, NPR reported, had applied to legally immigrate to Canada. 

"They had applied for legal migration to Canada because the father's sister was living in Canada," said Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch. "And they were denied. So their only option to join their relatives in Canada was to put their lives in the hands of the smugglers."

Canadian immigration officials, meanwhile, deny they ever received an application for asylum. They only received an application for the boys' uncle, and it was sent back. 

But local Canadian MP Fin Donnelly told the CBC he personally delivered an asylum request for the boy and his family to the immigration minister:

"It was terrible and obviously action was needed," he said. "That's why I agreed to do what I could, including personally talking to the minister about her case."
 

Donnelly said his office pushed as hard as his staff could to learn more, but received no response. The result is "utter frustration and devastation," he said.

Many have wondered how this death, and so many others, can be allowed to happen, when the need for help is so obvious. But it's not exactly surprising to find such bureaucracy and confusion behind an immigrant's application for asylum. Immigration law, in many countries, was created specifically to keep out war refugees. 

courtesy Erick Moya

This spring, a wave of children showed up at the southern border of the United States, with no adult to care for them. The children were labeled “unaccompanied minors.”

The number of unaccompanied minors at the border was much higher this year than in previous years. But children with nowhere else to turn have long sought refuge in the United States. Many of them end up staying to make a life here.

Today, we have the story of one young man who arrived here years ago, when he was 17 years old.

His story begins like this:

Bueno, mi nombre es Erick Moya

"My name is Erick Moya, I came from Honduras," continues his translator, Wilson Soliz, who works at Bethany Christian Services in Grand Rapids, the organization that helped Moya when he reached the United States. 

"The reason I left Honduras was because my father killed my mother," Soliz continues. "And then we were left alone."