WASHINGTON, July 2, 2014 – The Rio Grande is witness to an influx of unaccompanied children coming to the US from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Reports are that in the Rio Grande Valley, just one place of illegal border crossing, they have seen a 178% increase in crossings from all of the previous year.
US. 8 U.S. Code § 1227 – Deportable aliens is the law when it come to illegal immigration, however the very last section states
“Nothing in this subsection may be construed to limit the authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General to grant a stay of removal or deportation in any case not described in this subsection.”
Speaking with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto last week, President Obama siad that immigrants coming into the US illegally would not qualify for legalized status, including children. However, once they are in the US, reunited with family, detractors ask, how is one to determine if the child came in in this wave of immigrants, or has been here for time, qualifying for citizenship under immigration reform.
Critics are asking why President Obama took so long as tens of thousands of illegal alien minors have been crossing into the US for months before that call was made, often referring to a presidential “wait and see” attitude.
Or worse, allowing the crisis to escalate forces a republican Congress to pass his immigration bill.
The president wants to grant more authority to the Department of Homeland security in order to “remove unaccompanied minors” from entering the US however advocate warn that we are denying these children due process protections, returning them to dangerous situations and abdicating national and international responsibilities, according to Michelle Brane, the Director of the Migrant Rights and Justice program at the Women’s Refugee Commission.
“We’re extremely concerned that the administration is continuing to refuse to see this as a refugee issue and that they are really taking drastic steps to roll back a long tradition of child welfare-friendly policies in this country,” Brane told CBS News.
The United National High Commissioner for Refugees study found that almost 60% of the children had been sent to the US by parents as they were facing harm that justified the need for international protection from the US. The problem is that these children are being separated from their parents still in Central and South America and becoming wards of the American taxpayers.
There is also a health crisis in the making. Of the approximately 140 children, reports that ten children were taken to local hospitals for unspecified reasons and seven children were found to have scabies, a highly contagious skin disease. Past immigrant influxes at Ellis Island and San Francisco in the early 20th Century also dealt with the concern of diseases being brought into the US, turning those people away, often to die, in “plague houses” or quarantine stations
Now Americans, many who feel Washington is not listening, are taking to the streets to protest the flood of illegal immigrants into America’s cities and towns. Migrants processed at the Murrieta facility were to be processed by, and placed under the supervision of ICE agents, who would then see those persons moved deeper into the US, hopefully united with families who are already here.
On July 1, nearly 300 people waved American flags and voiced opposition to busloads of children being brought to their town, located about an hour north of San Diego. Homeland Security had flown about 140 people into San Diego before being bused to Murrieta. Murrieta Police Chief Sean Hadden was told that the initial 140 migrants were to be followed by more buses, as frequently as every 72 hours, for the next several weeks.
Murrieta Mayor Alan Long urged the resident’s protest.
“Murrieta expects our government to enforce our laws, including the deportation of illegal immigrants caught crossing our borders, not disperse them into our local communities,” Long said Monday at a news conference. The city had defeated two previous attempts to send migrants to the facility, he said.
Murrieta is said to be ethnically diverse with a sizable Hispanic population.
Councilman Rick Gibbs has said one reason for the protests is the limited accommodations at the local Border Patrol facility. It is basically a room with , metal benches and limited lavatories.
“Murrieta is not El Paso, we’re not Tucson. This is a small community,” he said. “We do not have the facilities to feed and clothe people for an extended stay.”
Murrieta, CA has a population of a little more than 106,000 people within 15 neighborhoods. The 62 largest community in California, housing costs in Murrieta are some of the highest in the nation.
Most of Murrieta’s population work at white and blue-collar jobs, but overall more residents are employed in office work – professional and service providers. More people living in Murrieta work in math and computer fields than 95% of the rest of the US with the percentage of people with a college education higher than US averages. (Statistics courtesy of Neighborhood Scout).
A Border Patrol union representative in San Diego told The Desert Sun that they planned “to drive the immigrants in vans to bus stops in Perris, San Bernardino and Menifee.” Agent Gabe Pacheco called the program “de fact amnesty.”
But then what? And what about the children, many not old enough to get on a bus alone in order to find family somewhere in the US. Who will be responsible for their safety.
“We can’t start taking care of others if we can’t take care of our own,” said protester Nancy Greyson, 60, of Murrieta.
The Murrieta station does not have the facilities to accommodate the children and Ron Zermeno, voiced his concerns to USA today saying “It’s chaos. It’s going to be a mess.”
Shipping these children, some with one parent, into the US is an effort by the government to reduce the overcrowding of Texas Rio Grande Valley detention facilities where children are sleeping on the floor, often in unlocked cages.
Today, in El Centro, California, protests are expected as buses are being sent there as well. Migrants are also going to be sent to El Centro in Imperial County and a center in New Mexico, where protests are expected.