Immigrants seeking asylum leave home countries because of 'unlivable conditions'

Eitan Pelen, manager of UNICEF USA's Child Migration & Protection, explains why immigrant families seek asylum and why action must be taken to protect them.
5:20 | 07/19/19

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Transcript for Immigrants seeking asylum leave home countries because of 'unlivable conditions'
There are also big changes to asylum law this week the administration announcing. That they're going to change the way the process works no longer can you claim asylum and the border if you pass through a third country that also offers a silent meaning all of the Central American refugees coming across the border would no longer qualify for asylum and builder there is big implications there. So want to bring in the head and manager of the child migration. And policy at UNICEF to join us here I. Hi at a time how are you that thank you for joining us today hi thanks for having it. And can you just talked to was a little bit about how how are what we're seeing at the border it compares to a refugee situations worldwide. So I think. And so they give a little bit of context UNICEF the UN children's fund works in over a 190 countries around the world. And protecting migrant refugee children is one of are wraps the priorities. And it's a lot bigger than just what's happening at the southern borders so globally there are 31 million children. Around the world have been forced to flee their homes that are there on the moved an optimistic in their bats tonight. And wherever they are whether they're going it's imperative that we have top protect and systems that are robust that are gonna connect and the resources that they need. And one of those is access to asylum wherever they are whichever country they are wherever they came from. And a time how will these new asylum rules of the administration has rolled out that I should point out the ACLU is going to be ever has announced they will challenge in court. In packs as refugees that are at the southern border. So you mentioned refugees in and one of the things that I I think is an important it's a kind of a nuances talk about asylum seekers vs refugees. So an asylum seekers somebody who shows up to the US territory and then makes a claim for a silent if they're successful their claim. Then they'll be refugees Reza refugee is somebody that applies from a third country. And then if they gain entry then they'll be entered already at the refugee. And so what we're seeing happening is that children rather then being allowed to seek asylum when they reach an end of the selected to be in effect. There they're not going to be allowed to remain in the United States and I think the policy is relatively new and I'm not sure the specifics of how is that it's gonna rollout. But at the end of the day what is there's gonna happen is it's going to impact these children's access. To health services to education services to the essential services that they need to live a safe and healthy childhood. And that's the priority is is making sure that whoever they are that they have access direct access these services. And I think. One thing that led to folks when we're talking about this issue that gets lost is rather than looking at them as somebody who's come from another country. But the refer to as as aliens and legal proceedings to look at them as if they were your own children and so how would you want your child to be treated how would you want to be treated. When you are fleeing pretty unimaginable to distance. That you are seeking to seek asylum from because that's at the court advocates Seeking Asylum and that means that where you were before. Was living conditions that were unbearable to the point now you just had to get up and leave your home which nobody wants to do. And a ton but before we let you go any said that. Obvious is issues much bigger. And what's happening just on the southern border but quickly since we know the attention and focus that's happening. Right here right now what has been. The role of UNICEF specifically. Of your division of UNICEF when it comes these facilities there currently housing so many children along the southern border. Well there are our number of different facilities and so one of the things Sosa mind because that the portfolio that are work within. Is the 3 countries in Central America that most of these kids are coming from sets off Salvador Honduras and Guatemala. Than their fling up through Mexico Iraq the United States and often repatriated. So when there initially entered they are apprehended by the department of homeland security and their place in processing facilities. And then they're released from processing facilities to what if if it's a family unit and depending on the state that there and a look at it to to a to the north is there but if they're for example in parts of California Texas it will be released to what's referred to the respite center and respite centers are run. Buy an amazing groups of NGOs in parts of south Texas and parts of Southern California like the San Diego rapid response network in California. Or assistant Roma's cafeterias of the Rio Grande Valley in McAllen Texas and look is respite centers do is they're kind of a one stop shop for these folks that have just come a very very long way. Fleeing pretty unimaginable conditions and they give them died of sort of a dose of a community they welcome them they provide them with what fruit. Win with. A change of clothes with travel it is six. With the place sustain a shower they needed and then they'd send them on their way and UNICEF as part of supported some of those restaurants on us. As a PSA. And hey time really quickly before we let you go. A lot of people be looking innocence say it will this isn't those countries problems that they should be dealing with why should I care as an American what would you tell them. As I mentioned before we need to be looking at these kids as if there our own children. And looking at and and putting herself in their issues and and so 11 thing that I think is is too important to highlight is that. The children don't know the difference of the borders writes those are days when they arrive at United States. Tickets are it. Tickets are back there so why should Americans care. Americans should care because. Children account of the town sensible for their refugee before their migrant they should be treated us out and let the children. A town telling the manager child migration services for UNICEF thank you for taking time on a Friday speaking to us we appreciate it thanks rapidly.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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