Recent reports regarding unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally suggest that Northern Virginia is the final destination for many, and that the federal government has set up a system that encourages illegal immigration of minor children.
Virginia: the final destination?
“The Washington, D.C., region is drawing a number of the children caught illegally crossing the border because it is home to an estimated 165,000 Salvadoran immigrants, the nation’s second-largest population after the Los Angeles area’s 275,000, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The capital region had 42,000 immigrants from Guatemala and 30,000 from Honduras.” Source. [read_more]
For the first six months of 2014 30,340 unaccompanied children [“UACs”] have been placed with sponsor families. These are children placed directly with family members outside of the detention/processing facilities. Of these, 2,234 were placed in Virginia making it the fifth largest destination nationwide. 2,205 were placed in Maryland. 187 were placed in D.C. All told the DMV is home to 15% of total nationwide placements of UACs. Source.
Statistics show that approximately 13,500 UACs came in 2012, that 24,000 UACs came in 2013 and 60,000 are estimated in 2014. Source. Extrapolated from the fact that over 30,000 have been processed and placed with sponsors by July 7, 2014, and that those being held in “temporary” detention centers have not been counted, one can see that the estimate of 60,000 is far short of the likely total by year’s end.
Approximately 75% in 2012 and 2013 were male, and the % over the age of fourteen is increasing year over year.
Why placement with sponsor families?
Based on the stories recounted in the LA Times, these children are awaiting immigration hearings. Presumably based on the stories the children are largely seeking asylum, and do not have other grounds for which they seek to stay. It is acknowledged that the children are, or will be attending school while waiting for their hearings. Unexpectedly high enrollment in some neighborhood schools in northern Virginia is to be expected.
According to the DHHS Administration for children and families:
“Under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Congress transferred the care and custody of UAC to HHS from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to move towards a child welfare-based-model of care for children and away from the adult detention model. In the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which expanded and redefined HHS’s statutory responsibilities, Congress directed that UAC must ‘be promptly placed in the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child.’ See 8 U.S.C. § 1232(b)(2).” Source.
Essentially, if you immigrate to the U.S. illegally, and happen to be 17 or younger you avoid traditional INS enforcement and are placed into a system seeking to meet your “best interests.” Treating children with compassion is a laudable goal, but how could this not create the perverse incentive for parents to smuggle their children hundreds of miles away from home under somewhat unknown, but horrific conditions. The results of these policies are more obvious year after year.
DHS confines illegal immigrant parent who actually accompanies her child
Utilizing a Bush era determination under Attorney General Ashcroft some DHS agents are declaring mothers and children threats to national security in order to deny them bond. Source. Parents and children caught crossing the border illegally will be detained pending hearing and deportation.
A child separated from his or her parents, and placed in the hands of human traffickers will have his or her best interests taken into consideration by the U.S. government, whereas the child with a parent suffers detention and deportation. The U.S. is actively encouraging parents to send their children here unaccompanied.