News / USA

US Faces Complex Child Immigration Crisis

Immigrants, who have been caught crossing the border illegally, are housed inside the McAllen Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas where they are processed, July 15, 2014.
Immigrants, who have been caught crossing the border illegally, are housed inside the McAllen Border Patrol Station in McAllen, Texas where they are processed, July 15, 2014.
Ken Bredemeier

The United States deported 38 children and their mothers to Honduras this week in the first of what it promises will be regular flights sending illegal Central American immigrants back to their homelands.

But the U.S. is finding it difficult to cope with the growing influx of thousands of children, sometimes with their mothers and sometimes alone, who are making the long and dangerous trip from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in search of a better life in the U.S.

About 90,000 unaccompanied children could be apprehended at the border this year, more than triple that of a few years ago.

The immigration crisis along the southwestern U.S. border, chiefly in the state of Texas, is new for the country in its size and origin, with Central American rather than Mexican immigrants looking to move to the U.S.

Complicating the crisis is a 2008 law that gives children entering the country anywhere but from U.S. neighbors Mexico and Canada the right to an immigration court hearing to determine whether they should be granted asylum for humanitarian reasons or sent home.

New phenomenon

Anna Shavers, an immigration law expert at the University of Nebraska, told VOA the country is questioning whether it could accommodate the thousands who are showing up on its doorstep.

"It does sound like a very, very large influx at one time, and the reason it sounds so big, that the United States is different from a lot of countries because we've not had that large numbers that some other countries have had," she said. "You know some countries have millions of people come in every year, claiming to be refugees.... But when we have 50,000, 60,000 people, the question is can we absorb that many people?"

The surge of immigrants is no doubt dwarfed by the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria that its Mideast neighbors are left to contend with.

But U.S. officials, from President Barack Obama to lawmakers, have been scrambling to cope with what he calls a "humanitarian crisis" that his congressional critics say can be blamed on the administration's lax enforcement of immigration laws.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has balked at voting on comprehensive immigration reforms approved by the Senate more than a year ago, a measure Obama supports. In the meantime, he is seeking $3.7 billion in funding to deal with the immediate crisis on the border.

Motivation

The U.S. says most of the Central American children are escaping extreme poverty, crime and violence in their homelands, although some of the critics say rumors there have led some to think that if they get to the U.S., they will be allowed to stay. Some of that belief is based on Obama's 2012 order to allow undocumented young people who had been in the country since 2007 to stay if they had been in the armed forces or were pursuing their education.

Nonetheless, U.S. Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson said the U.S. was committed to returning the recent surge of Central American immigrants to their native countries.

"Our message is clear. If you come to this country illegally into the Rio Grande Valley sector, we intend to send you back consistent with our laws and we are building additional capability to do that quicker and safely,'' said Johnson.

But with a backlog of thousands of immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. and a shortage of judges to consider the specific circumstances of each case, Shavers said it usually took at least a year-and-a-half, and often longer, before the fate of any individual was decided. Many of the newly arrived simply assimilate into the country and ignore orders to report for court hearings where they could be ordered deported.

One immigration critic, Senator John McCain from the Mexican border state of Arizona, said chances were good that anyone getting into the U.S. would end up staying.

"The latest information we have, that in fiscal year 2013, 20,805 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were apprehended by the border patrol. In that same year, 2013, 1,669 of these unaccompanied children were repatriated to their home countries," he said. "If you were one of these children and you were there in one of these countries, wouldn't you think your odds were pretty good?''  

Like Obama, some lawmakers are also calling for more immigration judges. They also want to require them to adjudicate every case within two weeks. Some want to change the 2008 law to permit rapid repatriation of the immigrants, just like undocumented Mexicans who are apprehended are often quickly sent home.

But Shavers saw a peril in such quick justice.

"Right now, they have to have some kind of a hearing," she said. "And if Congress passes a law that says they can be put on a plane and flown right back, I think there are some problems with that, because suppose some of those children really are in danger of their lives. And so they get flown back into the situation that they were in and something happens to them, do you want to be responsible for that?"

As U.S. law stands at the moment, the Central American children setting foot illegally in the country now can be granted asylum if they have "a well-founded fear of persecution" based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gayle Benitez from: Maryland
July 17, 2014 2:01 PM
Congress has dithered for at least three admisttions about reforming immigration. At present, there is no legal way for people to apply for their documnets. Even family visas are difficult, complicated and expensive. Most of these children have family already here, but there is no path legal status. They just got tired of waiting and decided to trust The coyoted

by: Dana from: Md
July 17, 2014 7:08 AM
Immigration is ending the American Middle class. Immigration was first 'reformed' in 1965 and that was about when the Gini Coefficient, which measures income inequality in a country, started rising in the US. Immigration was 'reformed' again in 1986 with the Simpson-Mazzoli Act which granted amnesty to 2.7 million illegal immigrants. Now that Immigration has been 'reformed' twice already and we are about to 'reform' it yet again I wonder how high the Gini Coefficient can go?

Granting amnesty to 2.7 million unlawful immigrants in 1986 has led us to discussing 11 million illegals now, at that rate we will be talking 40 million more in 2042, good luck with that.

Another 'reform' should do it, and the American Middle Class will disappear.

by: Missy Isquirt from: LA
July 16, 2014 9:29 PM
Homeless activists in Los Angeles are angry about Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Obama administration moving to provide shelter for thousands of illegal immigrants while American homeless remain on the street without assistance.

From CBS Los Angeles:


Homeless activist Ted Hayes, who has lived in L.A. for three decades, opposes the idea, insisting there are American kids on city streets who need help first.

“It’s kind of a slap in the face to U.S. citizens,” Hayes said. “It’s embarrassing. It’s hurtful. Because it’s like a father saying that he loves children outside of the family more than he loves his own.”

“We feel for them,” Hayes continued. “We feel their pain. But we are feeling pain of our own children first.”

Garcetti’s office says he has convened with a group of nonprofits that could take the children in while they await their hearings. The mayor also says no city resources would be used in the event the children are moved to L.A.

“These kids who are isolated, alone. Maybe are doing the right thing, maybe have made mistakes. Forget all that first,” Garcetti said. “Let’s get them some place safe and secure. Let’s get them legal representation, which is what this country has always stood for.”

Homeless Americans, however, represent zero political capital for the Democrats and Obama. That is why the government is not heaping redistributed dollars confiscated from a shrinking captive pool of productive Americans on them.

by: meanbill from: USA
July 16, 2014 12:54 PM
TRUTH BE TOLD.... For every week the Mexican border fence is delayed from being built, means thousands of more illegal immigrants entering the US weekly.... More than 52,000 illegals a year, (equals how many), before the Mexican border fence is built, and what will be the cost in housing, food, and medical care will it be, for the American taxpayers and economy?

CRAZY isn't it? ... The easiest and cost saving way to stop the illegals from entering the US, is to build the Mexican border fence, but the US President thinks otherwise, doesn't he?..... SOMEBODY said it... "You can't talk logic to a man without common sense" (and to me), he was talking, without knowing it, about the US President?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More