By Jennifer Schlueter
According to the Department of Homeland Security, 57,000 Central American children, mostly from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, have crossed the US boarder since October. This number is twice as high as the number of the same period from the previous year and ten times as high as the number of 2009.
The children that survive the dangerous journey are fleeing from poverty and crime in their countries, hoping to have a better life here, or to reunite with parts of their family who are already in the US. Some parents send their children because they believe rumors that their kids will be allowed to stay in the US once they crossed the border.
In 2008, former President George W. Bush signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act – a law to fight child/sex trafficking. Whereas Mexicans or Canadians are simply sent back across the border, this bill grants Central American kids a court hearing to determine whether they are allowed to stay or not. Due to the enormous number of immigrants, and thus, court cases, the children often have to wait years on the decision – years that they spend in processing facilities of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Some children do not even show up in court.
Two weeks ago, protestors in Murietta attempted to block migrant children and families from entering processing facilities.
The Obama administration requested $3.7 billion on Tuesday, July 8, to increase the number of border patrol official, judges, and detention centers, and to improve the living conditions of the refugee children while waiting on their hearings. Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers says that the White House will not approve Obama’s request: “It’s too much money.” He adds: “There are pieces of it that need to be dealt with immediately and that’s what we’re working on.” Democrat Rep. Luis Gutierrez declares: “I plan to support the president’s budget request but we must make sure that we do not short-circuit justice for the children. They get their day in court as the law mandates.”