Thousands of illegal immigrants are flooding across the border into Texas and other border states every day, but two things distinguish this wave from earlier illegal immigration waves.
First, Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans now make up about 75 percent of illegals caught in South Texas, whereas previously most people who crossed the border illegally originated in Mexico. Second, large numbers of these illegal migrants are unaccompanied children. A Reuters article on May 29 cited Obama administration estimates that 60,000 children unaccompanied by parents or relatives will pour into the United States this year, up from about 6,000 in 2011.
The situation was deemed so urgent by the Obama administration on June 2, that the White House issued a presidential memorandum directing the secretary of Homeland Security to establish an interagency “Unified Coordination Group.” The group is to be created, stated President Obama, in “Response to the Influx of Unaccompanied Alien Children Across the Southwest Border.”
A June 12 report in The New York Post noted that in fiscal year 2009, border patrol agents apprehended 3,304 children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, but that number is close to 50,000 this year and is expected to continue increase dramatically.
California Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, expressed concern on Fox News Radio that the mass migration of children trying to cross our border could result in fatalities.
“This flood is going to mean children dying trying to get in,” said Issa. “And more important, children coming here with the anticipation that somehow they’re going to be granted citizenship and then they will bring the rest of their family … that’s a false narrative.”
The Washington Post reported on June 12 that the sharp increase in the number of illegal migrants coming over the border over the past three months — especially in the number of children traveling without their parents — has overwhelmed the Border Patrol’s detention centers in South Texas, prompting officials to ship the children to converted warehouses and military bases as far away as California. The Post noted that during the past eight months, Customs and Border Protection has detained 47,000 unaccompanied minors, most of them in the Rio Grande Valley area of South Texas. This is an increase of 92 percent from the same period during the previous fiscal year.
“We’re fighting a losing battle right now,” said Chris Cabrera, the Border Patrol’s union representative in McAllen, Texas, as quoted in the Post. “We don’t have anywhere to hold them.”
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Photo of two Guatemalan boys, with their mom, at the Greyhound bus terminal in Phoenix: AP Images