White House: 90,000 Illegal Minors Expected by Autumn

Monday, 14 Jul 2014 10:45 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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As many as 90,000 unaccompanied minors may be captured entering the United States by the time the fiscal year ends in September, reports the Obama administration, which insists most of them will be returned to their home countries.

However, reports NBC News, officials also admit that fewer than 2,000 migrant children are actually deported every year, and many of the young people streaming over the nation's southern border are not likely to be immediately deported.

According to a federal law signed in 2008 to fight human trafficking, children entering the United States alone who are from countries other than Mexico or Canada cannot be immediately deported. Instead, they must be given the opportunity for a hearing and to be represented by an advocate.

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Already, the migrant children are appearing in immigration courts across the country. In one such court in New York City, the juvenile docket twice a month contains at least 50 or more children fighting to stay in the United States.

One such boy, 15-year-old Diego,  arrived in the United States in March after traveling for months from Peru alone. He said his mother died when he was 5, and he eventually fled to America after his father abused and eventually abandoned him, and that he lived amid gang violence in the streets.

The teen now lives in New York with a family friend and says life is "safe and quiet here."

Many attorneys work for free in the court, and Diego's lawyer said he has no doubt his client will eventually be legalized.

Immigration advocates report many of the young people who leave the border and reach other cities will be in the United States for years, and likely permanently.

One remedy, the Special Immigrant Juvenile visa, protects children who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected, which describes many of the children coming from Central America, advocates say.

"We're talking about desperate children," said Eve Stotland of The Door, a New York-based nonprofit aimed at empowering young people. The agency's caseload has been increasing due to the surge of juveniles. The Door's lawyers are able to get the special visa for 80 to 90 percent of their clients, she said.

But other groups, like the Center for Immigration Studies, complain that resettling the young people throughout the country does not bode well, and that immigration laws are being exploited to allow them to stay.

"My guess is they're all going to stay and not go anywhere," said the center's communications director, Marguerite Telford. "Resettling them throughout the U.S. does not bode well for them going home."

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