Unaccompanied minors putting the most strain on government resources, says expert

Friday, July 11, 2014 - 12:32am

There seems to be no end in sight to the number of undocumented immigrants crossing into the United States illegally through the southwest border.

More than 2000 have passed through El Paso since June and 140 more arrived on Thursday.

"El Paso has been incredibly generous and welcoming," said Ruben Garcia, the Executive Director of the Annunciation House in El Paso, a non-profit organization that helps the undocumented immigrants.

"So far, 100% of our people have been able to travel further into the United States, where they're meeting up with other family members, relatives," said Taylor Levy with the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center.

But officials say it is the number of unaccompanied minors showing up at the border that has been most overwhelming.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum are calling the situation a "humanitarian crisis."
"It's not a new phenomenon. It has been building up for the last three years," said Victor Manjarrez, the Associate Director of the National Center for Border Security and Immigration at UTEP.

Manjarrez, also a former U.S. Border Patrol agent, argues the number of undocumented immigrants entering the country in recent months, isn't any more than in the past but what makes it more of a crisis is the unaccompanied children.

"When you look at the number of UACs, this year it is about 52,000, almost 53,000. In the grand scheme of things, that is not a big number. What is noticeable is the impact that these children take on the system. It requires more of the system to take care of them," said Manjarrez.

A system seemingly incapable of handling them, leading to overcrowded federal holding facilities and unsanitary conditions.

In a letter to President Obama on Thursday, Texas Governor Rick Perry proposed more security at the border to fix the problem.

"It is a little disappointing. It's short-sided because this is not a simple law enforcement solution," argues Manjarrez.

The Annunciation House in El Paso is one of three sites in town helping the undocumented immigrants.

They say unlike other cities, El Paso hasn't seen any unaccompanied minors -- all have had a parent or guardian with them.


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