Should illegal immigrant children be granted legal assistance to remain in the United States?
The recent influx of illegal immigrant children crossing our boarders is leading to a heated debate within the United States and how we as a country are going to deal with it. In this essay, we will explore how this issue is affecting our country and steps that we as a nation should take to solve this issue.
At present, there is over 65,000 and counting illegal immigrant children from Mexico, Central and South America crossing over our southern boarders of the United States; “It appears that a significant majority of children coming across are not "unaccompanied alien children" according to the definition found in federal law. Federal law defines an "unaccompanied alien child" as an illegal alien under the age of 18 who is without "a parent or legal guardian in the United States". Data from government agencies suggest that the overwhelming majority of minors arriving on the U.S. border have family in the United States,”1 Says Jon Feere, Legal Policy Analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies. These illegal immigrant children are claiming they are fleeing their countries due to threats to their lives and they are seeking asylum in the United States.
Currently, the large majority of these children smuggled across the borders are done by drug cartel operatives in their home country. The operatives are being funded by family members who themselves are illegally living within the United States. “There is little evidence to suggest that the recent arrivals are victims of trafficking, which involves coercion. Instead, families and their children are willing participants in smuggling operations, having paid smugglers to bring them into the United States.”1 As Feere explains, "Human trafficking and human smuggling are distinct criminal activities, and the terms are not interchangeable."1 Although, the number of children attempting to cross the border has decreased by half for the month of July, according to reports from the White House, this is only temporary due to the heat from the summer months. The numbers are expected to increase in the fall months.
Due to the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, it requires all illegal immigrant children be given an opportunity to appear at an immigration hearing and consult with an advocate. This law was enacted by President Bush to help the victims of Human Trafficking. However, the drug cartels have found a way to exploit this law and are getting rich from illegal immigrants already in the United States. Feere states; “Even where the 2008 trafficking act is applicable, provisions within the law allow its application to be limited in "exceptional circumstances."1 Given the fact we have this law in place, it’s become a magnet for illegal activities and escalating danger for the ones it’s supposed to protect.
However, amidst all of the debate from both sides of the political fences, the President is taking steps to gain control over this situation; recently, the President met with his counterparts from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador unveiling a new pilot program to offer some desperate family legal refugee status in the U.S. without breaking immigration laws. “It would be better for them to be able to apply in country rather than take a very dangerous journey.”2 According to President Barak Obama. This seems hardly enough to gain control over the situation, however, it is a start.
In addition, the White House is exploring the possibility of screening some of these children and presumably their family as well in Central America to see if they would be eligible for refugee status and then bringing them into the United States legally. “This is a standard procedure now that if you want to seek refugee status you can show up at an American consulate in