A January hearing featured the muffled coos of a toddler in the back row. A 2-year-old Honduran girl named Jennifer Tatiana came in the arms of her mother. The child was the respondent in the case, as those headed for a possible deportation are called. At the government’s request, a venue change was granted to Atlanta where the mother now lives.
Jennifer Tatiana sucked her thumb through the proceedings.
Southwest border apprehensions: (Oct. 1- May 31) 323,675, a 15 percent increase from fiscal year 2013.
Rio Grande Valley (South Texas) border apprehensions: (Oct. 1-May 31) 163,542, a 74 percent increase from fiscal year 2013.
Southwest border apprehensions of Other-than-Mexican citizens: (Oct. 1 – May 31) 162,757, 50 percent of the total Southwest border apprehensions.
Rio Grande Valley (South Texas) border apprehensions of Other-than-Mexican citizens: (Oct. 1-May 31) 122,070, 75 percent of total Rio Grande Valley apprehensions.
Mexico’s Human Rights Commission estimates that at least 20,000 migrants get kidnapped every year in Mexico, often with the assistance of local police or other officials. The gangs hold the migrants and demand hundreds or even thousands of dollars for their release.
The White House will honor 10 young adults on Tuesday who came to the United States illegally and qualified for the president’s program to defer deportation actions.
Each person has qualified for the government’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program, which delays removal proceedings against them as long as they meet certain guidelines.
They will be honored as “Champions of Change,” the White House said in a statement Monday because they “serve as success stories and role models in their academic and professional spheres.”
They emigrated from Mexico, Colombia, Morocco, India, Taiwan and the Philippines, and many of them work in professions related to immigration policy or have helped launch initiatives that promote reform.
The honorees have all worked to support comprehensive immigration reform in some way. They include a ThinkProgress writer and two people involved with Mi Familia Vota, ”a national non-profit organization working to unite the Latino community and its allies to promote social and economic justice through increased civic participation” by, among other things, ”expanding the electorate through direct, sustainable citizenship, voter registration, census education, GOTV and issue organizing in key states.”
Bercian Diaz said they found corruption in the Mexican government.
“They were asking for 500 pesos, 600 pesos. The federals took that money from us,” she said.
She said the Mexican federal police and immigration officers asked for money to “turn the other way.”
“The immigration officers took 1,500 pesos,” Bercian Diaz said.
“I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in the ability of Republican members of Congress to divine the thoughts and insights of children in Central American countries,” Earnest answered. “My point is, I’m not sure this withstands a whole lot of scrutiny.”
As it turns out, the Republican explanation does withstand a whole lot of scrutiny. Recent days have been filled with anecdotal reports, from local news outlets in Central America to major American newspapers, citing immigrants who say they came because they believe U.S. law has been changed to allow them to stay. And now comes word that Border Patrol agents in the most heavily-trafficked area of the surge, the Rio Grande Valley sector of Texas, recently questioned 230 illegal immigrants about why they came. The results showed overwhelmingly that the immigrants, including those classified as UACs, or unaccompanied children, were motivated by the belief that they would be allowed to stay in the United States — and not by conditions in their homelands. From a report written by the agents, quoting from the interviews:
“The main reason the subjects chose this particular time to migrate to the United States was to take advantage of the “new” U.S. “law” that grants a “free pass” or permit (referred to as “permisos”) being issued by the U.S. government to female adult OTMs traveling with minors and to UACs. (Comments: The “permisos” are the Notice to Appear documents issued to undocumented aliens, when they are released on their own recognizance pending a hearing before an immigration judge.) The information is apparently common knowledge in Central America and is spread by word of mouth, and international and local media. A high percentage of the subjects interviewed stated their family members in the U.S. urged them to travel immediately, because the United States government was only issuing immigration “permisos” until the end of June 2014…The issue of “permisos” was the main reason provided by 95% of the interviewed subjects.”
. . . Several Republican senators cited the Border Patrol report in the hearing with Secretary Johnson last week. Johnson said he had not seen the paper. “The document you read from, I have never seen,” Johnson told Republican Sen. John Cornyn. “It’s supposedly a draft document. I don’t know that I agree with the assessment there.”
“Well, they’re interviews with 230 of the people detained coming across the border,” Cornyn said.
“I’m not sure I agree that that is the motivator for people coming in — for the children coming into south Texas,” Johnson answered. “I think it is primarily the conditions in the countries that they are leaving from.”
I’ve sent a copy of this letter to all my State legislators (slightly edited for each):
What can we do to help moderate what appears to be the makings of an international crisis due to the numbers of families and vulnerable, unaccompanied children entering our country?
Please see this post about the issue at WingRight.org, “A minor border crisis.” I am concerned that the unaccompanied minor children in these stories are being used in a political ploy designed to beat away at the resistance to “immigration reform.” Whether that is true or not, they are suffering physical and sexual abuse and abandoned due to the inadequate system in place at this time.
As to the “practical action” that I mention in the blog post, perhaps we could utilize the systems for handling refugees that the State of Texas built after Katrina.
Our goal should be to return these children and families with minor children to their homes in their own country immediately after they are caught and funding for the effort should come from the Federal government. Since I’m not sure we can count on this Administration to agree, Texas must take the lead.
I’m offering to work as a volunteer anywhere I can be of assistance, whether as a doctor and/or doing the “scut work” in coordination of the effort.
Of the 168,000 caught illegally entering the United States in the Rio Grande Valley from October, 2013 to May, 2014, 33,000 were “unaccompanied” minors. Since 75% are from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, we are also supposed to believe that they traveled the entire length of Mexico not only without their parents, but without the Mexican authorities even noticing.
In the meantime, many have reported physical and sexual abuse in “shelters.”
The root cause of the influx is obvious. Our President is aware of the lawlessness and is using the children in a in a political ploy to beat at the resistance to immigration reform in the US. (“Obama delivered a commencement address at a technical school in Worcester, where he said 30 to 40 percent of the students were children of immigrants.”)
And now, we hear that ICE releases 90% of the children to “sponsors.” Not just with family members, but with “friends* already in the country. Who is to say what happens to the children when the authorities can’t even keep up with their whereabouts? Are they being further abused and trafficked?
No one knows. There doesn’t seem to be any way – or any effort? – to track them once they are released.
The simplest and most urgent need would be to close the border to more illegal crossings. At the same time, we must convince Mexico to stop ignoring the passage of hundreds of thousands illegally making their way through that country. We should also begin to track at least the minors we have already taken into custody after they are released. Finally, we must return these children and families to their homes in their own country.
This is not the time for hyperbole and political grandstanding, but for practical action. My concern is not only that our national security and sovereignty is severely compromised: If our current immigration and border control policies result in human trafficking and child abuse, we may see a lasting international debacle.