The Guardian Angel program aims to keep as many children and youth as possible from being deported without a full assessment of eligibility for asylum as well as ensuring that their psychological and physical needs are met.
The Guardian Angel program is sponsored by the Synod Justice and Global Missions Team as a project of the Welcoming Congregations network of the Southwest California Synod. We are part of a broader collaboration involving the Los Angeles Diocese of the Episcopal Church, the California Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Presbytery of the Pacific of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) and the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild. CLUE coordinates UCARE, a broader coalition of legal and service providers concerned about unaccompanied migrant children and their families. Lutheran Disaster Response, Lutheran Immigration Refugee Services and the Wheatridge Foundation have supported the program.
While these partners are all contributing significantly to the protection and service of the children, the Guardian Angels is the central point of contact with the children and their families. We meet them in court and our Spanish-speaking volunteers help them to connect with the legal and social services resources. We are particularly focused on helping the children and their families avoid legal fraud. We often provide emotional and spiritual support to these children and families, ensuring that they know that they are not alone.
The Guardian Angels also observe court to ensure that these children and youth’s rights to a full asylum assessment are respected. We report any violations to the National Lawyers’ Guild and Public Council for their current lawsuit. We also have noticed that our presence has apparently encouraged judges to increase the amount of time given for various steps of the legal process and discouraged deportation orders. We are also working on advocating for court practices that support families. The Angels wear T-Shirts with a traditional image that clearly identifies them for the purposes of holding the judges accountable and communicating trustworthiness to the children and their families.