The thousands of immigrant children fleeing to escape the poverty and violence in Central America and Mexico into the United States can live in American cities, attend public schools, and possibly work here for years without negative consequences.
The main reasons are an overburdened, and deeply flawed immigration system and a 2002 law intended to protect children’s welfare, an Associated Press investigation finds.
The Border Patrol has apprehended more than 52,000 child immigrants traveling on their own since the start of the 2014 budget year in October.
“They almost never go home,” said Gary Mead, who until last year was director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office responsible for finding and removing immigrants living in the country. “It’s not a process that ultimately ends in easy resolutions or clear-cut resolutions.”
All the young immigrants who cross the border illegally are subject to deportation eventually. But it’s not a quick process, and adult immigrants caught crossing the Mexican border illegally are generally removed from the U.S. within hours or days of their arrest.
Complications arise due to a federal law dating back to President George W. Bush’s administration that requires unaccompanied child immigrants be turned over to HHS within three days. From there, many are reunited with parents or other relatives already in the United States or other sponsors before the lengthy court process beings.
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