For two weeks we've been bringing you news and exclusive photos from the ongoing humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied Central American children flooding over the southern border. Border Patrol warehouses and resources are completely overwhelmed with children sleeping in chain-linked cages and on floors. Shower facilities are scarce, disease is a major concern and things are only getting worse as thousands more people continue to enter the United States illegally. It's a bipartisan issue with Republicans and Democrats calling the situation inhumane and demanding action from the Obama administration to stop the influx. More from Fox News:
MISSION, Texas – At daybreak in this border town, two women from Guatemala – one with a small child strapped to her back – wait patiently on the levee overlooking the Rio Grande.
They have been instructed by the "coyote" who ferried them across the river for an exorbitant fee – as much as $1,000 – to simply wait for the Border Patrol to pick them up. After processing, they will likely be given a notice to appear before an immigration judge and a bus ticket to wherever in America they may have friends or relatives.
That’s the way it goes, day in and day out, in what has become ground zero of the latest immigration crisis. Thousands upon thousands of people from Central America exploiting the porous border of the Rio Grande Valley to enter the United States.
“If we don't send the message that they can’t just come in and stay here, it's gonna continue, this wave of humanity,” said Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar. Cuellar is a Democrat, but an outspoken critic of how President Obama has handled this crisis.
“He still has a long way to go to improve this, and we've been asking him, don't just listen to the words of the bureaucrats up there in Washington, listen to the men and women who work here,” Cuellar told Fox News.
If you listen to the men and women who work here – and have been instructed to not talk to the media – they are being overwhelmed. One Border Patrol officer, on condition of anonymity, told Fox News the massive influx of unaccompanied children and family units has taken the Border Patrol completely off mission.
There are three major problems happening right now. The first is women (some pregnant) are paying "coyotes" or smugglers to traffic them and their children into the U.S. where Border Patrol picks them up. After they are processed, Immigration and Customs Enforcement either buses or flies them to another state like Arizona, Virginia or Maryland where they are given a court date and dropped off in hopes they might actually show up.They hardly ever do and court dates can be as far away as three years from now.
And as many children as have crossed the border, their numbers are eclipsed by the "family units" racing to get into the United States. They are traveling hundreds of miles with small children, knowing that under U.S. law, they will not be deported immediately. Many of them are in the advanced stages of pregnancy and will likely have a child that will become an American citizen.
The second problem is thousands of unaccompanied children being dumped at our borders with no adult supervision. Those children must be cared for and housed at Border Patrol facilities and military bases until a legal guardian in the U.S., who can be living in the country illegally, is located.
The unaccompanied minors present a complex problem for authorities. They can’t be immediately sent back – and they can’t be left alone in the U.S. to fend for themselves. They are supposed to be handed off to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours, but the sheer numbers of children has left some of them languishing in crowded Border Patrol stations longer than that.
The third problem is Border Patrol agents playing babysitter instead of actually patrolling the border, giving drug cartels and criminals with intent to do harm the advantage.
News reports out of Central America are still sending a message to readers, viewers and listeners that if they go to the U.S., they'll be able to stay. According to a piece by Sylvia Longmire, attorney's working pro-bono in the U.S. say thousands of unaccompanied children could be eligible for amnesty. Further, unaccompanied children will be treated better than American children already in the foster care system.
Based on current immigration and asylum laws, the vast majority of those children could be legally staying right here in the United States before long.
Under the authority of the Homeland Security Act, the federal government transfers custody of illegal immigrant children who are apprehended alone at our borders to the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The ORR’s primary goal is to reunite them with a family member or legal guardian already here in the US (regardless of their legal status) while the child goes through removal proceedings. As Breitbart Texas recently reported, UACs receive a bevy of assistance while in ORR custody, including classroom education, health care, socialization/recreation, vocational training, mental health services, family reunification, access to legal services, and case management. In many cases, they are treated better than US citizen children currently in the foster care system.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will travel to Central America in July to address the crisis. President Obama has asked for $1.2 billion in funding to handle the crisis of children unaccompanied in the U.S. Media is still banned from entering Border Patrol processing facilities.