Over the past two years, large numbers of unaccompanied mostly teenage boys from Central America entered the US illegally and immediately turned themselves over to authorities. The trip cost their families up to $10,000.
Poverty, violence, persecution, and exploitation in their native countries.
85% have family in the United States.
A 2008 Bush child sex-trafficking law requires a court hearing before non-border country children can be deported. The flood of non-border country children overwhelmed available judicial resources. HHS ran out of room to house children waiting for backlogged hearings. Immigration Control couldn’t legally deport them. So most of the children were placed with their relatives.
The good news is that the flow of children has slowed. Our government is successfully defeating the rumor in Central America that children receive amnesty.
Rumors aren’t as easily defeated here.
The Obama administration proposed a tardy but reasonable plan. Dramatically increase holding and processing capacity. Help Central American countries improve living conditions and political stability. Reform the 2008 child-trafficking law as part of a larger immigration reform package.
Instead radical extremists whipped up xenophobic fears of child-terrorists to gain political advantage. The same Republicans who want to sue the President for lax law enforcement demand that he ignore the 2008 child-trafficking law. Texas governor Rick Perry sent 1000 National Guard troops to the border. Local officials complained. Since the troops can’t deport these kids without a hearing, they can only greet them, take them into custody, and scare away the tourists.
Those opposed to immigration reform will likely survive yet another election cycle by continuing to portray illegal immigration as an enforcement problem. Clearly these children are not criminals. They and their parents are risking their lives and savings for a better future.
It’s past time that we have a rational immigration policy that promotes our economic growth and regulates the flow of legal guest workers. We are a nation built on the promise of a better future for those willing to work hard, abide by our laws, pay taxes, shop in our stores, learn our language, and cherish our kids.
Immigration reform will happen when supporters punish the bigoted and fearful opponents of reform both in the pocket book and at the polls.
What Republicans view as an advantage in 2014 may set them up for another crushing defeat in 2016.