The boundary between the United States and Mexico is the perennial focus of efforts by the U.S. Border Patrol to manage or deter attempts by immigrants to enter the country illegally. In recent months, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in particular has been flooded with thousands of unaccompanied minors venturing to cross into the United States without immigration papers. The vast majority of them are arriving from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. These Central American countries are undergoing a crisis of violence, which is producing an immigration crisis especially for the United States. U.S. president Barack Obama declared an “urgent humanitarian situation” on June 2.
In late May and June an average of 250 to 300 unaccompanied children were caught by the Border Patrol each day, with 458 detained on June 10 alone. The majority of the children are teenagers, but even a few very young children were among those apprehended. This year there has been a 117 percent increase in the number of unaccompanied minors younger than 12 years old caught at the U.S.-Mexico border, compared to 2013.
Many of the children arriving say they fear for their lives if returned to their countries of origin. The sheer number of arrivals is overwhelming the system for processing applications for refugee status or asylum. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has set up additional detention centers, and in some cases moved children to places outside the border area to await processing. How to care for these children and provide them due process is not a simple matter, since U.S. law limits who is eligible to receive asylum.
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- In Texas, a Look at the Border Children Crisis by the Numbers
This article focuses on the center of the border crisis: Texas’s Rio Grande Valley; includes a graph showing the number of daily apprehensions of unaccompanied minors from May 17 to June 25, 2014.
(Source: NBC News, July 17, 2014)
- Behind the Border Crisis
Listen to this On The Media program with an interview with a senior reporter for the Arizona Republic; transcript available.
(Source: On The Media, July 11, 2014)
- U.S. Is the Largest, but Not the Only, Recipient of Central American Immigrants in Latest Surge
This article explores the reasons for the surge in immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, in the broader context of Central American poverty and violence.
(Source: Fox News Latino, July 28, 2014)
- Government Closing Border Children Emergency Shelters
The article updates the border crisis, which has begun to lessen since mid-July; includes video on the “waves of undocumented immigrants strain[ing] border patrol resources.”
(Source: NBC News, August 4, 2014)
- Minor Children Applying for Asylum by Themselves
This official CIS web page describes policies and procedures affecting unaccompanied minors applying for asylum.
(Source: Citizenship and Immigration Services; accessed August 5, 2014)
- Mark Krikorian Debates Central American Influx on Hardball
This video from MSNBC’s Hardball features Mark Krikorian, head of the Center for Immigration Studies, debating a representative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on how to address the present crisis.
(Source: Center for Immigration Studies, July 25, 2014)