DALLAS The story of immigrant child reunions has to start somewhere. In this case, it s on the 5th floor of a high-rise along North Central Expressway in Dallas.
As thousands of immigrant children are set to come to Dallas, the lobby of a fingerprinting site at Mosaic Family Services is constantly busy. Fingerprinting is just the beginning of background checks required to ensure the children are going to safe homes.
I have never seen such a surge in number of people coming to our office, said Walter Nguyen, executive director at Mosaic, and a refugee himself from Vietnam.
Jimmy Soriano, who was waiting in line to be fingerprinted, told News 8 in Spanish he hasn t seen or heard from his six-year-old daughter, Ashlen, in weeks. He believes she is somewhere in a shelter in the Texas, but says anywhere is better than Honduras.
There s lots of delinquency growing in Honduras, and when they grow, they get caught up in drugs and prostitution, Soriano said.
The caseload for Edith Rivera, fingerprinting specialist at Mosaic, has grown tremendously in the last couple of months. She said as more and more children cross the border and surrender, more and more family members are coming forward to claim these children.
It s a hard situation, because these kids don t live a regular life where they re from, Rivera said.
Soriano s fingerprints will ultimately go to Washington, and then to the next phase of checks. He says every bit of effort is worth it if it gets him closer to a reunion with his daughter.
I m going to run and hug her and hold her, Soriano said.
Without [fingerprinting], the kids may not have a chance to reunite with one of their loved ones or family members, Nguyen added.
Rivera tells News 8 that the number of families interested in being fingerprinted for background checks has doubled in the last several weeks. Mosaic is one of 33 sites in the country where this service is offered.