Unaccompanied Children Crossing Border

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that President Obama requested almost $4 billion from Congress to address the flood of 52,000 migrant worker children crossing the border into Texas.  The President called it “an urgent humanitarian situation” and said the money would be used for new detention facilities, more aerial surveillance and to hire immigration judges and Border Patrol agents.

Over the past few years Tthe number of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) who have been traveling to the United States has steadily increased in recent years and continues to increase. Despite the most robust border security this country has ever seen, the number of UACs continues to increase. The children making this dangerous journey are younger than in previous years, many under 13, and a higher percentage are girls.

The majority of UACs come to the U.S. because of domestic abuse, gang-related violence, deprivation of essential survival needs, and labor and sex trafficking.

Such children are travel most often from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras;; however, recently, there has been a dramatic increase of children traveling from  more recently there has been a greater increase from Belize, Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

The most common reasons given for leaving their homes were domestic abuse, gang-related violence, deprivation of essential survival needs, and labor and sex trafficking.

Due to the volume of UACs, many are being housed in ill-equipped Border Patrol facilities and temporary shelters set up by the military. Under the Homeland Security Act of 2002 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for the detention, transfer, and repatriation of UACs and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is in charge of their long-term custody, care, and placement while in the United States. While removal procedures are pending the UACs are in ORR care until a parent, guardian, or foster home can be found. 

Posted by Erin Elliott