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Bloomberg Businessweek
July 24, 2014

The Logistical Nightmare of Sending 57,000 Immigrant Kids Home
By Esmé E. Deprez

In recent weeks, President Obama and congressional Republicans have begun to offer the same simple-sounding solution for dealing with the flood of children crossing the U.S. border alone: Send the kids home. But with tens of thousands of them churning through the system, some just toddlers, the logistics are overwhelming. A decade ago, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which cares for minors soon after they are picked up, handled just 6,200 kids a year. By 2013 that figure had ballooned to almost 25,000. Since October, more than 57,000 children have arrived by themselves, most from Central America, and 22,000 more have been detained with their parents. While the majority of those caught are teenagers, the greatest increase has been among children younger than 12. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents find that most don’t try to run; in fact, they want to be caught. The kids hope that being apprehended will begin another journey, one that will end with permission to remain in the U.S. Children from Mexico can be deported without a formal hearing. But a 2008 law intended to combat sex trafficking says those from nonbordering countries—such as Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—must be allowed to plead their cases before a judge. The influx has pushed wait times for immigration cases to a record high of 587 days, or more than a year and a half, according to researchers at the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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