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Catholic Charities helps reunify Virginia families

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Tatiana Bardales was reunited with her children thanks to Catholic Charities’ family reunification program.

Immigrant and refugee families separate for a variety of reasons. The Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington is helping families reunite.

According to a report from the Department of Homeland Security, nearly four thousand children were separated from their families at the border with Mexico during the Trump Administration. While the zero-tolerance policy has ended, there are still 998 children that have yet to be reunited with their family.

Since 2006, the Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington has been helping support youth from Central America reunify with their families in Northern Virginia. They say Virginia has become a state with a great need for family reunification. So far this year, Catholic Charities has over 100 children in their current caseload. On average they assist over 300 children a year through their reunification program.


KEYRIS MANZANARES: Tatiana Bardales came to the US from Honduras in 2016, leaving behind her two youngest children, Maria and Alex.

TATIANA BARDALES (translated from Spanish): I felt relief that I could give them a better life. I knew they weren’t going to long for food, I knew they wouldn’t be missing clothing or medication.

KEYRIS MANZANARES: In 2021, Bardales sent for her children after Maria had an epileptic episode. When the children arrived at the U.S. border, Bardales says they were detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and taken to a foster home in New York.

TATIANA BARDALES (translated from Spanish): I thought that I would get them in a couple of weeks. But because of Maria’s case it was really complicated. So, they detained Alex and Maria. They were there for like four months.

KEYRIS MANZANARES: The Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington helps immigrants and refugee families with reunification.

JESSICA ESTRADA: We work primarily with unaccompanied minors who have crossed the border and have been detained in shelters and then are released to family members.

KEYRIS MANZANRES: Jessica Estrada, director of Newcomer Services says family reunification can be challenging.

JESSICA ESTRADA: Some of these young people have been separated from their families for a very long time, and so there’s a process of getting to know each other again, getting to know the environment in which they're coming to.

KEYRIS MANZANRES: Bardales says without the support of Catholic Charities, it's hard to say if she would be with her children today.