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Surge in Children, Families at the U.S. Border May Be the ‘New Normal’

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Mark Potter and Elizabeth Chuck report: A dramatic spike in unaccompanied children and families trying to slip in across the U.S.-Mexico border may be “the new normal,” officials say, with some believing the surge is linked to a federal ruling that ended long-term detentions.

“The word is, come on ahead and the border is open, the Obama administration is going to take good care of you.”

The number of apprehensions of unaccompanied minors and family units — legal guardians with children under 18 — rushing the nation’s southwestern border peaked last year, then fell off as Obama tapped the Federal Emergency Management Agency to figure out what to do about the young refugees.

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“Many Border Patrol agents and officials believe there may be a link between the current surge and a federal court ruling over the summer, when U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered federal officials to change how long they detain the thousands of mothers and children who are caught crossing illegally into the U.S. while fleeing violence in their home countries.”

But in recent months, apprehensions have proliferated again: More than 10,000 undocumented children have been stopped in just the last two months, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The 10,588 apprehensions are a 106 percent increase over the same Oct. 1 through Nov. 30 period from last year, when 5,129 kids were picked up.

A large group of Immigrants, guided by two "coyotes" or guides, walk on the desert of Sonora bound for the border with Arizona. This group consisted of 37 border crossers, from four different countries- They included people from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and one Brazilian. Sasabe, Mexico. 01/23/05

A large group of Immigrants, guided by two “coyotes” or guides, walk on the desert of Sonora bound for the border with Arizona. This group consisted of 37 border crossers, from four different countries- They included people from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and one Brazilian.
Sasabe, Mexico. 01/23/05

“We could very well be seeing the new normal.”

— Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Apprehensions of family units have jumped too, with 12,505 detentions in those two months, representing a 173 percent increase from last year’s 4,577 seizures in the same time frame.

“We could very well be seeing the new normal,” Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told NBC News.

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Sources told NBC News that many Border Patrol agents and officials believe there may be a link between the current surge and a federal court ruling over the summer, when U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered federal officials to change how long they detain the thousands of mothers and children who are caught crossing illegally into the U.S. while fleeing violence in their home countries.

In a scathing ruling in which Gee said it was “deplorable” that families and young migrants are languishing in detention centers, she argued long-term detention is also in violation of an 18-year-old court settlement that restricted how long the government could house migrants while they pursue asylum. She gave federal officials until Oct. 23 to change the policy.

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Under the new rules, an unaccompanied minor must be released from a federal detention center to a relative elsewhere in the U.S. after no more than five days, and their parent should be, too, so long as officials have determined they are not a flight risk. In rare exceptions, migrant children and families can be held up to 20 days, Gee ruled.

The decision came several months after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson condemned long-term detention as “an inefficient use of our resources.”

Critics call the number of migrants flowing into the country a security threat, but Homeland Security officials say families and kids crossing through is a humanitarian matter — not a threat in any way.

People wouldn’t be caught up in this kind of smuggling activity unless they felt a really strong reason why they have to flee their home country to begin with.

Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is among those who have spoken out against the new White House immigration policy, which he calls lax.

“The word is, come on ahead and the border is open, the Obama administration is going to take good care of you,” Goodlatte told NBC News.

The new rules are “making the border less secure,” he added….(read more)

Source: NBC News

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One Comment on “Surge in Children, Families at the U.S. Border May Be the ‘New Normal’”

  1. […] Source: Surge in Children, Families at the U.S. Border May Be the ‘New Normal’ […]


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