Hundreds of unaccompanied children are entering the United States via the Southern border every single day. The reasons are manifold: they’re “fleeing for their lives” to escape poverty and gang violence; news stations in Central America are telling parents their children “won’t be turned away” if they come; the administration’s lax deportation standards are encouraging illegal immigration; and of course, the border is grossly porous and insecure. All of which is to say that the crisis on the Southern border is a much bigger issue than some people might realize:
Taxpayers are footing the bill for relocating what could be as many as 90,000 children this year from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who are crossing the U.S. border without their parents.
About 1,100 are being housed temporarily at a facility at Lackland Air Force Base here.
"Every night, there's about 300 to 400 kids that come in without parents. This is just in the lower Rio Grande Valley," said Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas.
In recent years, the number of children younger than 18 found trying to cross the Mexican border without their parents has skyrocketed. Between 2003 and 2011, between 6,000 and 7,500 children a year were landing in the custody of Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement program.
Yikes. The humanitarian crisis is so dire that the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is resorting to hiring temporary and glorified babysitters to watch these unaccompanied children while the federal government figures out what to do with them. Meanwhile, reports are surfacing that children are being sexually abused and mistreated in makeshift holding facilities where they're currently being held; at the same time, diseases are reportedly rampant and spreading like wildfire across the Southern border.
Two days ago the House of Representatives approved tens of millions of dollar in aid to help end a humanitarian crisis some believe is as bad as Hurricane Katrina. But it remains to be seen what good, if any, that will do.