US responds to rise in unaccompanied child migrants from Central America
(9 July 2014)
Growing numbers of Central America children travelling without their parents are being apprehended at the US-Mexico border. In fiscal year 2011, the US caught 15,700 children crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley, but already this year numbers have topped 52,000. Over 15,000 of these children have travelled from Honduras alone, representing an over 80 percent increase since 2012.
Whereas US law permits rapid deportation of children from Mexico, children from Central America are subject to the terms of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which mandates a court hearing before children are deported or allowed to stay. Child migrants are mostly sent to live with relatives while their court cases are pending, a process that can take years.
Gang violence and domestic abuse at home, as well as a persistent rumour that the US has relaxed immigration rules relating to children, have spurred the 2014 rise in unaccompanied child migration, the White House and border-agency reports have claimed. The increase in child migration comes as total numbers of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border have decreased in recent years. Whereas in fiscal year 2000, 1.6 million people were caught crossing the border, in 2013 there were only 415,000.
Rising numbers of children in the immigration system have strained federal agencies tasked with response, prompting President Obama on 8 July 2014 to request $3.7 billion from Congress to respond. The President’s proposal would include funding for housing and caring for child migrants; border patrol agent salaries and increased aerial drone surveillance of the border region; more judges to adjudicate migration cases; and assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Under-age and on the move, 28 June 2014, The Economist, http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21605886-wave-unaccompanied-children-swamps-debate-over-immigration-under-age-and-move
Obama seeks $3.7B to stem tide of kids crossing border, 8 July 2014, USA Today, Alan Gomez, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/08/obama-border-immigration-congress-funding-request/12352771/