Right now as many as 1,000 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are camped inside a makeshift “transition center” in Nogales, Ariz.
So what happens with these children next?
The Department of Homeland Security isn’t saying much. That’s bothersome. This comes down to trust and DHS isn’t inspiring any in the face of this growing problem.
Some unaccompanied minors are sneaking across the border reunite with their parents who already are here in the U.S. Others are arriving because of Central American news reports saying parents should send their children to America to seek asylum. If they make it here, the news says, they won’t be returned home.
In 2009 only 3,300 unaccompanied minors made their way to the United States from Central America. This year alone, children are arriving in records numbers. About 48,000 have already shown up. The increase is staggering and is only expected to grow.
This is why these questions need to be answered:
Will some of these children be allowed to stay in the States? If so, what will happen to them?
Are they given temporary legal status so they can attend schools?
How many of them will stay with relatives? Are some going to be staying in foster homes while their immigration cases are resolved?
How many foster homes are needed? What about the children who don’t have relatives here or can’t be placed in a foster home? What happens to them?
Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino told KTAR’s Mac & Gaydos his city is just a “transition area.” He also said, “I think at the second phase of it or the second location where they get transported to, that’s where they’re going to go through the immigration process. I don’t know if it’s deportation or what.”
Even he doesn’t know. Maybe Immigrations and Customs Enforcement doesn’t either. That would explain their silence. It’s either that or there is something they’ve been instructed not to say. Usually that’s how government works.
There are two issues here.
One, America’s immigration policy needs a serious upgrade. The policies are outdated and the government selectively enforces current laws. Congress needs to bite the bullet and figure this out. That’s what they get paid to do.
Two, the past two administrations have promised to be more transparent with the American people, yet many government agencies are shrouded in secrecy, including DHS. Secrets about what will happen to these children from Central America are not a way to build trust fresh off revelations the government has been spying on American citizens.