The numbers are large. Since October 1, 2013, about 47,000 children have been caught crossing the border. A year ago that number was 25,000. Next year the number may rise to 60,000.
President Obama declared it a “humanitarian crisis.” The federal government is giving food, shelter, healthcare and schooling to the children. Shelters opened in California and Texas.
What is going on? The biggest reasons are the violence and poverty in the Central American countries. Honduras is said to have the highest murder rate in the world. Getting away from the crime and gangs is often a matter of life or death.
Another reason is that children want to reach their parents living in the U.S.
A third cause is rumors, some of which are well founded. The word is that children will be treated better than adult undocumented migrants. A 2008 federal law protects children. It is meant to reduce human trafficking.
The government tries to find relatives in the U.S. who can care for the children. Deportation proceedings are ongoing. However, the number of children deported is going down. Some people now believe the U.S. has “opened its doors to women and children.”
Republicans say it is the President’s fault. One said, “Word has gotten around the world about lax immigration enforcement.” However, thousands of children are also crossing the border into Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize.
An advocate said, “These children are refugees who deserve the protection of our nation. They should not be viewed as lawbreakers.”
There are many reasons for this crisis. The bottom line is that crime and poverty are the primary reasons people seek a better life. Until things change in Central America, the United States will be a popular destination.
Source: The Arizona Republic June 3, 2014