Since graduating from Calvin, Elvis Garcia Callejas ’13 has been quoted in The New York Times and was an invited participant at a recent meeting held at the White House. Both of these distinctions are a result of his work as a case manager with Catholic Charities Community Services’ Program for Unaccompanied Minors in New York City.
Callejas helps children who are looking for protection in the United States after they have been forced to flee their countries due to violence or poverty. He spends many days traveling to detention centers run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in New York state to give presentations to unaccompanied minors about their rights, the immigration system and the relief available for immigrant children in the United States. He also conducts individual interviews with unaccompanied children in ORR custody to determine whether they can be protected under U.S. law.
Callejas is confident that his education at Calvin prepared him for his work with immigrant children.
“It is thanks to the Christian studies and values through the international development and Spanish programs that I can see unaccompanied minors for what they truly are: children of God,” he said. “My semester abroad in Honduras also prepared me to understand why so many children are leaving Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.”
In addition to his courses, work and internship experiences helped equip Callejas for his professional life. During the summers of 2010 and 2011, he worked as a migration assistant at an immigration law firm in Chicago, which gave him the opportunity to assist immigrants through the legalization and naturalization process.
He also completed an internship with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Washington, D.C. This internship gave Callejas the chance to be part of a research report called “Children on the Run,” which focused on the stories of unaccompanied minors fleeing Central America and Mexico.