Canopy NWA Helps Reunite Families Whose Children Are At Risk of Gang Violence

Springdale, AR -- - President Trump's travel ban only currently only allows refugees to enter the United States if they have a “bona fide relationship” with a close relative or entity in the United States.

Canopy NWA held their first ever Central American Minors Clinic to help parents who have legal status in the U.S. but have kids who may be at risk of gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras. 

 "It's at the point to where around the time you turn 11 or 12, gangs start looking to recruit you to join." Emily Crane Linn, the Resettlement Director of Canopy NWA, said. 

Canopy NWA said gang violence in Central America is constantly rising. Some families have even moved to Northwest Arkansas to try and create a better life for their kids in their home countries. 

"It's a really hard time to be a parent with a a child back in one of those countries because in the last couple of years gang violence has gotten to be really really dangerous." Linn said.

"We have a blessing to be in this country where we are safe and can go wherever we want. We're not afraid if someone is behind us or trying to do something bad to us." Amanda Aristondo, a volunteer for Canopy NWA said.

The organization works with parents to fill out paperwork so their children can come to the U.S. as refugees.Part of the application process includes making sure there actually is a relationship between the parent and child either through marriage or birth. 

Volunteer, Amanda Aristondo -- who is an immigrant from Guatemala -- said she understands how these parents feel.

 "I'm an immigrant and I can feel how sad it is to have their kids away in a dangerous situation." Aristondo said.

Once the application is finished, it will be sent to the U.S. Government who will then determine if their child can come to the U.S. 

Canopy NWA is dedicated to helping these families reunite with their loved ones.

"This program aims to provide a safe, legal alternative so that they can join their parents here in safety in Northwest Arkansas or wherever they might happen to live in the United States." Linn said. 

According to Canopy NWA, once the application is sent it takes around a year for the parents to find out if their child will be able to join them here in the United States.

To find out more information about Canopy NWA or if you need help with the application process, click here.


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