While hundreds of undocumented immigrants have been transported to Arizona from Texas over the past few weeks, recent plans to send some people to California have been canceled. In total, an estimated 300 Central American immigrants were expected to be transferred from Texas to Southern California before plans were nixed. However, federal authorities have not completely closed off the possibility of revisiting the idea.
Interestingly enough, a spokesperson for the Border Patrol claimed that he was unaware of why there was an abrupt change in plans. Ralph DeSio spoke with the Associated Press shortly after the canceled flights and told those in attendance that the planning was “in a very fluid state.”
Meanwhile, workers in New Mexico continued to work on building fences around a federal training site in order to to get ready for the “expected arrival of hundreds more” undocumented border-crossers by the end of June.
The transport of undocumented immigrants from Texas to other states in the southwest are “part of the Department of Homeland Security's latest efforts to apprehend and process what it says is a surge in illegal border crossings by children in the Rio Grande Valley.” Many of these immigrants are unaccompanied minors.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are calling this increase in border crossings in the Rio Grande Valley a “unique operational challenge” for federal authorities. This is partly due to the fact that although “overall border apprehensions remain at historic lows, a recent dramatic increase in the number of people under age 18” has been reported.
In the past weeks, there have been many national and local conversations about the issue. “The issue we face is as much a humanitarian one as it is a matter of border security,” commented Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson. According to reports, the number of undocumented children attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border has grown continuously since 2011. As recorded by the federal government, “more than 52,000 children traveling alone” have been apprehended while trying to enter the U.S. without documentation. That number was 7,000 in 2010.
Tracking these numbers for more than 20 years is Michelle Brané, director of migrant rights and justice program for the Women's Refugee Commission. She considers this recent concern to be “spike within a surge.” When dealing with minors, it's important to understand that there are certain child-welfare protocols that must be followed. "My concern is that I don't want these processing centers to turn into long-term detention centers," Brané said.
Now, the immediate concern is where the children will be housed in the meantime. Currently, it is unclear whether these children will be sent to California or New Mexico. Minors are still being transported to locations in Arizona. Federal officials continue to be reserved and choose their words carefully when discussing plans as to how these unaccompanied minors and other undocumented immigrants will be handled over the next coming months.
What are your thoughts on canceling the flights to California? Are federal agencies reconsidering their next steps when it comes to these children?