My plan was to stay away from this topic, but the more and more I hear the more and more frustrated and angry I become, because if we (the United States) don’t do something about it right now it’s going to become so bad we will not be able to recover fiscally.
According to the latest numbers I could find since October 2013 more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors have fled their homes in Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras) and crossed the border into the United States. And according to a recent Washington Post article the White House will ask for $3.8 billion to deal with the influx.
Now before you get your panties in a bunch and start President bashing. I will have to say that his hands are tied. At least as I see it. Why do I say that?
If you’re not familiar with the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, than you should probably familiarize yourself with it. But the gist of it is to cut down on modern-day slavery and curb child trafficking.
[T]he bill gave substantial new protections to children entering the country alone who were not from Mexico or Canada by prohibiting them from being quickly sent back to their country of origin. Instead, it required that they be given an opportunity to appear at an immigration hearing and consult with an advocate, and it recommended that they have access to counsel. It also required that they be turned over to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the agency was directed to place the minor “in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child” and to explore reuniting those children with family members.
So, somewhere somehow folks found a loop-hole. When the bill was authored and signed into law under the Bush administration no one thought that there would ever be such a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing our borders. Understandable. Naturally one would think that these children crossing the border are in danger of modern-day slavery. However many of them are not. They are facing the real danger of poverty and violence, which if I understand the law is out of its scope.
When the law was passed in 2008 approximately 8,000 children were deported and every year since the number of deportations continue to dramatically drop while the number of minors from Central America dramatically and drastically increase. We, the United States, are going on the ‘honor system’ that they will show up at an immigration hearing, which almost never happens considering they are allowed to leave one of the Refugee Resettlement facilities and live somewhere, perhaps with family or maybe in long-term foster care and collect government assistance.
Some pundants say the reason for the surge is the President’s lax immigration policy. That may definitely play a role, but I can not wholly put the blame on that.
Under current law, the Border Patrol is required to take child migrants who aren’t from Mexico into custody, screen them, and transfer them to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (a part of the Department of Health and Human Services).
Once again there is the political finger-pointing game going on in Washington and meanwhile we are being overrun with minors claiming refugee status and causing a financial drain to an already fiscally unstable economy. As well as putting a financial burden on DHHS and the court system, but what do we do?
Send them back? That is definitely the least expensive thing to do, but is it the moral or humanitarian thing to do? Or should morality and humanitarism even come into play when you really can’t afford it?
Somehow we’ve tied our hands in this matter, and until the Politicians stop playing the blame game and do something about it there’s a definite possibility we’re going to be out $3.8 billion. For starters.