The border patrol is coping with the swell by releasing many of the migrant mothers with children on their own recognizance, with a date for a deportation hearing in hand. Some of the unaccompanied minors are being released to the custody of parents or relatives in the US. One flaw in that approach: Only 40 percent of those accused of being in the United States illegally ever show up for court, according to former federal immigration Judge Mark Metcalf.
How is this influx different from past immigration waves?
Overall illegal immigration into the US is about half the rate of its apex in 2005. It plummeted with the rise of the Great Recession and high US unemployment, beefed-up border security, and a stronger economy in Mexico. At the peak of illegal entries, immigrants apprehended from Central America accounted for 400,000 border-crossers. The total is now at about 180,000, but it is rapidly pushing up.
What’s different this time is that the undocumented immigrants from Central America are disproportionately younger, apparently trying to escape from strife-torn and murder-wracked countries. Many of the children are reported to be seeking to join their undocumented parents or relatives already in the US.