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Unaccompanied Minor Immigrants Present Big Challenges

kid-border-patrol-fence-CNS.jpgCurrent immigration law in the United States dictates that children who are caught and detained by Border Patrol agents for crossing the US-Mexico border illegally and are unaccompanied by adults are required to be remanded to the Department of Health and Human Services. The Department then finds housing and counsel as to what their legal rights are throughout the process of deciding their case. In order to help speed up the process and quicken the deportation of children who have crossed over illegally, President Obama is trying to change the law that in such a way as to give Border Patrol agents the power to make deportation decisions themselves and send these children back home.

Officials at the White House have confirmed that the current administration is working to amend the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 – or TVPRA – in an effort to streamline the process of deporting children back to their home countries who have tried to cross over the US-Mexico border illegally. The officials insisted that the administration is not interested in making any changes to the law’s stipulations that guarantee the protection of children from trafficking and says that it is committed to continuing to ensure that they are not sent back into dangerous conditions or situations.

The changes are necessary, however, because as the administration sees it, the law was written and enacted at a time when there was not nearly the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing over into the United States that there is today. So far in 2014 there have been over 50,000 minors who have been captured trying to cross the border into the US without any adult accompaniment. The vast majority of these children come not from Mexico but from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The changes that have been proposed to the law have caused outrage among many individuals and groups, namely the nation’s immigration attorney who disagree with making changes to a law intended to protect children who could become victims of violence and human trafficking.

The goal of the administration’s actions in this regard is to more quickly resolve all of the immigration cases that end in deportation or with approval to stay in the US. Both children as well as adults end up waiting several months and in some cases even years to have their cases resolves as the country’s immigration courts are severely backlogged. Border Patrol agents currently have the authority to make a determination about a minor’s eligibility to stay in the US if they are crossing over from one of the contiguous countries, i.e. Canada or Mexico. The fact that these children can be remanded back to officials from their own country safely and directly makes very quick work of the overall process. Children from counties outside of North America, however, there is far more preparation involved in sending a child home.

Current immigration law does not require that these children have their cases heard by an immigration judge but according to immigration attorney that is exactly what is happening because these children end up having to stay in the US for so long in order to hear a decision about their case. If you or someone you know would like information about current immigration law or you require legal counsel regarding an immigration issue, please visit the Austin immigration attorney at the Lyttle Law Firm website or call our offices in Austin, Texas at 512-215-5225.