Immigration Corner

Unaccompanied minors migrating from Central American countries to the USA because of gang crime and violence is on the rise again.
Photo Courtesy: Pixabay.com
Photo Courtesy: Pixabay.com

By Raul Ray, Esq.

A recent increase of unaccompanied children fleeing Central America and being detained at the US border in Texas could spark a repeat of the 2014 migrant crisis. 

Almost 68,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended between October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The migration explosion of these unaccompanied children, primarily from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala—the countries making up the “Northern Triangle” region—prompted President Obama in 2014 to call it a “humanitarian crisis” and order an emergency government response to address the crisis.

However, border enforcement measures to stem the flow of migrants entering Mexico, along with enhanced border security efforts in Central America and an aggressive U.S. public relations campaign to dissuade Central American migrants from making the journey North, for a while contributed to a decrease in the number of migrant children and families arriving at the Southern border in Texas. 

Now the tide is changing again and more women and children from Central America are illegally crossing into the United States in 2016 as compared to two years ago.

Handling the new surge of unaccompanied minor children

Human rights groups have said that most of the immigrants are fleeing gang violence and organized crime in their homelands and deserve refugee status.

Predictably, the presidential candidates have espoused contrasting views on how they would deal with our broken immigration system.  Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has suggested that she would consider a policy of not deporting undocumented immigrants who do not violate U.S. laws. Republican nominee Donald Trump has said he would seek to deport most, if not all, of the estimated 11-12 million people living in the United States illegally.

The Obama Administration is determined to treat migrants in a humane manner while at the same time  enforcing the country’s immigration laws consistent with the administration’s enforcement priorities according to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

However, the unprecedented volume of unaccompanied minors and families presenting themselves at the U.S. border in Texas has simply overwhelmed the U.S. immigration courts responsible for ruling on asylum cases with no relief in sight soon. Dana Leigh Marks — an immigration judge in San Francisco and president of the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) — described hearings in her courtroom as “basically death penalty cases” with children at risk of returning to life-threatening situations.

While we wait to see how the migration crisis and the state of immigration in general will play out after the elections, one thing is certain to continue to happen. That is unaccompanied minors and families from extremely violent regions in Central America Countries, particularly, El Salvador and Honduras, will continue to present themselves in great numbers at U.S. borders seeking refugee status. They undoubtedly see no choice but to embrace the risk of traveling alone to the United States as preferable to remaining at home and facing terrible harm due to gang crime and violence.

Remember contact ONLY a qualified immigration lawyer or an accredited representative for legal advice or immigration relief concerning your case. We will continue to keep you apprised on the very latest immigration news around the country.

For more information please feel free to contact Raul Ray, Attorney at Law, at Law Offices of Raul Ray, (408)279-5793, 1671 The Alameda, Suite 200, San Jose, CA 95126. Email: raylawfirm@aol.com.

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