Central American Illegal-Immigrant Children Face Deportation
In recent months, the United States’ southern border has seen a wave of tens of thousands of women and children migrating from Central American crime and violence.
Illegal-Immigrant Children Face Deportation
Beneath that load, American border officials have been utterly overwhelmed. Earlier this summer, the U.S. government sent the first of many planes bearing immigrants back into harm’s way. The flight took Honduran women and children to San Pedro Sula, a city with the highest homicide rate in the world.
The Obama administration touts this as a sign of determination to stem the tide of migration. But many worry that it represents the weakening of protections for unaccompanied minors.
Protection for Unaccompanied Minors
Many of these women and children hoped to take advantage of policy that supposedly makes it easier for them to remain in the country.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 currently protects unaccompanied minors from countries that don’t border the U.S. by automatically qualifying them for asylum hearings.
So, they can only be deported by order of an immigration judge. This is in contrast to simply being interviewed by Border Patrol or Customs officers.
While the intention was to provide serious scrutiny and protect children, new problems have arisen.
- With no housing available at the border, moms and kids receive a “notice to appear” later with no clear timeline.
- Court dockets are severely backlogged to almost 400,000 cases.
- Cases often drag out for months and even years.
The public and Congress are pushing for action, with numbers skyrocketing from:
- El Salvador
Responses to Rising Immigration
President Obama requested almost 4 billion dollars to end the crisis. But disagreement has dogged the process, with conservatives refusing to vote without changes to immigration law.
Other positions taken include:
- Conservatives like Sen. John McCain of Arizona are arguing for sending immigrants back as quickly as possible
- The Congressional Hispanic Congress is pushing for all immigrants’ right to their day in court.
- A bipartisan bill was introduced that streamlines deportation for children by weakening protections.
- Human rights advocates warn that weakening protections could return children to the line of fire.
The message, though, seems to be clear; the U.S. government will send illegal immigrants back.
At the same time, this has just been the initial wave of immigrants.
Future Government Actions for the Contiued Issue of Illegal Immigration
No matter what actions Congress and the Obama administration take, women and children will likely continue crossing Mexico. And by any means necessary in the face of extreme violence and poverty.
As many critics have pointed out, returning immigrants will simply use a more expensive and less scrupulous smuggler on a more dangerous route. This could make the crisis a whole lot worse before it gets any better. Women and children would be traversing some of the most dangerous, and most remote areas.
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About Michael Niren
Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more
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