Atherton soccer event raises funds for unaccompanied minors

ATHERTON, Calif. (KGO) -- Undocumented immigrants in the U.S. face many hurdles as they find themselves stuck in legal proceedings in order to stay in the country.

That also goes for unaccompanied minors - those who are children and cross the border by themselves.

On Saturday, a Bay Area charity hit the soccer field to try to raise funds for those kids.

Hundreds of soccer fans hit the pitch at Sacred Heart School in Atherton.

Among them, undocumented youth who came to this country on their own.

"I'm so glad that they send me here, and leave me here in the U.S.," said Carlily Aguilar, an unaccompanied minor.

Aguilar fled Guatemala four years ago after being abused by a family member.

She made the tough decision to leave everyone behind for a better life all by herself.

"I miss my parents but I know I'm here, better than Guatemala," said a resilient Aguilar.

It's stories like hers that prompted Catholic Charities SF to put on the "Futbol Con Corazon" tournament -- Spanish for "Soccer with a heart."

The annual event raises money for unaccompanied minors who crossed the border but still face an uphill battle seeking asylum.

The event was a reprieve for the kids - many who were unable to go outside and play in their home country because of the violence. "In their countries, it's really unsafe to go outside. They have gangs, they have a lot of violence," said Diana Otero, director of refugee and immigrant services with Catholic Charities.

That's why many of these immigrant children risk their own lives trying to cross. "I tell the police if they want to send me back, send me to another country but not to Guatemala," said Aguilar. She no longer has to live with that fear. Catholic Charities helped her obtain asylum and she is now a permanent resident.

Not every child is as fortunate.

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