It’s right at double the amount from the same period a year early. Many are caught by border patrol and placed at detention facilities where they are held, screened and cataloged. But then what?
A 2008 law, passed with bi-partisan support and signed by then President Bush in the final days of his presidency, is complicating this issue.
Called the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, the law prohibits a quick deportation for children from non-bordering countries, and requires they receive an opportunity before an immigration judge to determine their future status.
“It could be anywhere from a year to a little more than a year before the kids actually go to an immigration court and see a judge. They could have several hearings throughout their entire immigration court process. So it really just depends on the child and if they have representation,” said Jaime Treviño, attorney for Catholic Charities of Dallas.
It was intended to prevent child sex trafficking, but the recent flood of migrants has produced unintended consequences.
The Obama Administration says the law is limiting their ability to deal with the crisis and are asking Congress for changes to help expedite the deportation process.
The hearings will determine if the children will qualify for humanitarian relief and be allowed to stay, but according to White House, most will not. So they will be deported. But that’s not expected to be easy either. A judge’s deportation order must be carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which have their own priorities on who should be deported.
“Children are going to generally be on the lower end of the spectrum because you know what’s a 5-year-old kid, what kind of crime could he commit in the United States versus somebody drug trafficking or some other undesirable crime,” Treviño said.
That means these children could be caught in legal limbo for some time to come.