How Can Libraries Support Children and Immigrant Families? By Doing What We Do Best.

By Rachel G. Payne and Jessica Ralli

In early 2018, after learning about the forced separation of families at the southern U.S. border, Brooklyn (NY) Public Library (BPL) staff looked for ways to help. The Youth and Family Services team reached out to local government, nonprofits, and foster care agencies, but the most direct link to displaced children was through the immigration lawyers representing them, who described hours-long court wait times with their clients, some as young as three. In court proceedings, children were often retraumatized having to describe their experiences crossing the border—sometimes unaccompanied—or of being separated from their families upon entry to the U.S.


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