Most people are aware of the current issues going on at the U.S.-Mexico border. Since October of last year, there have been over 50,000 unaccompanied children apprehended while trying to cross into the U.S. without documentation. Many of these minors are coming from countries in Central America. Although Mexican children can be quickly deported, children from Central America must have an immigration hearing before federal officials can begin the removal process. This policy was signed into law in 2008 by President George W. Bush. It was meant to help children who were victims of trafficking or other, similar injustices.
Now, given the recent number of children coming from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, immigration courts are even more overwhelmed than they were before these circumstances came about. So, how will the U.S. subsequently cope with this current state of affairs? This “urgent humanitarian situation” will not only test immigration policies, but also many other agencies, procedures, and guidelines.
If the numbers continue at the rate they are going, there could be 90,000 unaccompanied children apprehended at the border. That is more than triple the number from just a few years ago. In July, the U.S. deported 38 children and their mothers to Honduras. This is considered to be the first of what will come to be “regular flights sending [undocumented] Central American immigrants back to their homelands.” At this point, however, the United States is having difficulties with this crisis and is debating its next action.
This current situation is different and more substantial than anything the United States has dealt with in recent years. An article on Voice of America's website even suggests this surge of undocumented children from Central America could, in fact, be considered a “new phenomenon.” Voice of America (VOA) spoke with Anna Shavers, an immigration law expert with the University of Nebraska and she said that the United States is now being forced to determine whether it is even equipped to “accommodate the thousands who are showing up on its doorstep.” The main issue is the fact that there are so many people coming in a relatively short period. Can the U.S. “absorb” another 50,000-60,000 people at the same time?
While there is a question as to how to deal with the issue, there are also many out there that are more concerned with why the issue came about in the first place. Some Republicans in Congress have been blaming the president's “lax enforcement of immigration laws.”
It has been right around one year since an immigration reform bill passed the Senate, but stalled in the Republican-controlled House. It leads a person to wonder, if the bill had passed, whether this current crisis could have been avoided. Now, President Obama is requesting $3.7 billion to help alleviate the crisis.
If you are dealing with legal matters that may impact your immigration status, give my office a call. We can meet to discuss the facts of your case and advise you on your legal options.