President Obama has said that he will try to change a 2008 immigration law that he believes is contributing to the large number of children, mostly from Central America, who have been caught trying to illegally cross the border into the United States.
The news is full of reports of children — mostly from Guatamala, El Salvador, and Honduras— who are being sent north to flee from violence, drugs, and poverty in their home countries. Under the Williams Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA), most unaccompanied minors who are caught by the border patrol are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS is then charged with finding them safe housing and advising them of their legal rights.
It is estimated that some 52,000 children have entered the U.S. since October 1, 2013. President Obama is seeking to change the law in order to expedite the deportation process.
Under the current law, an unaccompanied minor can stay in the country with family or as wards of the U.S. for several years before a deportation hearing is scheduled. More than 50 percent of those arriving are placed with parents or relatives already living in the United States.
Some experts claim that the long deportation process is encouraging the flight of children to the U.S. in record numbers. The Administration’s idea is to expedite deportations to discourage parents or other relatives from sending children on the dangerous trip north where they can be exploited by traffickers and even die during the attempt to cross the border.
Under the current law, it is illegal for the United States to simply bus back children who have emigrated illegally from non-adjacent countries. Children from Mexico or Canada can be returned across the border within days and released to officials in their home countries.
Some Immigration rights advocates are outraged by any suggestion of expedited deportations of these children. A spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union claimed the president is “mishandling a humanitarian crisis by proposing an inadequate speedy removal process that only further jeopardizes vulnerable children fleeing violence and persecution in Central America.”
The immigration attorneys at Lubiner, Schmidt and Palumbo in New Jersey will continue following the details of this story as it unfolds. If you have questions or need an experienced immigration law firm to protect your rights, call us toll-free at (888) 847-2529 or contact us online today.