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Influx of unaccompanied children baffles immigration officials

On Behalf of | May 9, 2012 | Family Immigration

California residents might be interested in a recent news story involving immigration and a large influx of children entering the United States. These children come from all over the world in an attempt to reunite with family, escape a violent or abusive home life or to seek a country with a stronger economy. Immigration officials are growing concerned due to the large increase and are said to be stretching their limited resources to care for them.

Although the trend of minors arriving alone in the United States is not a new one, the increase is surprising officials. From the period of October 2011 until March 2012, 5,252 children arrived in this country unaccompanied. This number marks a 93 percent increase over last years’ number. The recent increase was highlighted after 100 children had to be taken to an Air Force base to be temporarily housed. This incident marks the first time in history that the Department of Defense has been tapped to assist in an immigration influx.

When undocumented children arrive into the United States, they see the Department of Homeland Security for processing and typically are immediately escorted to the Office of Refugee Resettlement to await the process of deportation. When the child is placed in a shelter, a search for their relatives or a custodian begins, and nonprofits attempt to find a pro bono attorney for them. When an acceptable guardian is found, the children are allowed to leave their temporary housing while awaiting the immigration process.

The recent surge in child immigration baffles officials. Most are coming from Mexico and Central America, and officials wonder if human smugglers are playing a more prominent role in this than they have in the past. Regardless, the increase in child immigration numbers is disturbing, especially since these children are unaccompanied and could fall prey to unscrupulous smugglers. While it is understandable that many of these children want to reunite with their families scattered across California and the rest of the United States, the dangers of unaccompanied children traveling alone cannot be discounted.

Source: Fox News Latino, “US Support Networks Worry about Surge in Child Immigration,” April 28, 2012