For the past 2.5 years, over 400 children have needlessly languished in orphanages or temporary foster care in Guatemala. This past Thursday, the Guatemala 900, Joint Council and 31 families, brought the plight of these children to the Members of the U.S. Congress, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, the Guatemalan Embassy and members of the press.
During a 3-hour Congressional briefing, families who already adopted stood along side of those who continue their struggle to give over 400 Guatemalan children a loving, permanent and safe family.
After a 45 minute presentation on their 3-year struggle, family after family stood, demanded, asked, implored and even begged for the U.S. government to effectively work with the Guatemalan government to end the needless suffering of children. The families presented specific requests of the U.S. government all of which reflected a request for the U.S. to use the same level of influence that was used by the U.S. in securing passage of the Guatemalan adoption law in 2007.
Michelle Bond, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Department of State, Wally Bird Deputy Director of International Operations for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and a representative of the Guatemalan Embassy in Washington DC addressed the concerns and requests presented by the families. In summary, all expressed their personal empathy in response to the outpouring of emotion by each and every family present. While no new initiatives were offered, they assured the families of their continued advocacy on behalf of the families and children.
In addition to the Congressional briefing, the Guatemala 900 finalized their petition to the First Ladies of Guatemala and United States, asking for their direct involvement in ending the suffering of 400 Guatemalan children. To date, over 2,600 individuals have added their support to this cause by signing the petition.
Joint Council’s continuing support of the Guatemala 900 was represented by Tom DiFilipo, Rebecca Harris and Megan McConville, with Tom presenting during the briefing on Joint Council’s assessment and possible solutions. Joint Council will continue to stand with those children and families whose continued separation is a result of the policies of the governments of the United States and Guatemala and UNICEF.
We extend our appreciation to the Guatemala 900 and to the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Guatemalan Embassy and Members of Congress for their participation in the briefing and for their efforts on behalf of children and families.
Scroll down for pictures of the Congressional Briefing. More photos from the briefing can be found on our page on Facebook.