In what has become a vicious cycle of policy administration that serves to feed illegal border crossings into the United States, undocumented immigration from Central America continues to surge. In early February, the situation was again highlighted in Congressional testimony from parties advocating for tighter regulations around immigration.
The influx of Central American immigrants over the last several years mixes the humanitarian needs of thousands seeking refuge from horrific violence in their home countries with the contrary components of democratic bureaucracy and criminality. Additionally, as reported to readers in June 2014, agents discovered the undocumented immigrants were operating on bad information. The rumor suggested parents arriving in the United States with a child would be allowed to stay in the country indefinitely.
“As the numbers of immigrants crossing the border has risen at an extreme pace, immigration officials and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have struggled to quickly design a course of action,” our earlier report states. In an effort to promote efficiency, officials implemented a “catch-and-release” policy wherein agents order immigrants to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office near their ultimate destination within 15 days.
While it’s important to recognize the practicality of the policy– backlogs in immigration courts are notorious— the unintended fallout is an exacerbation of the issue. And as the issue gets bigger, some observers worry organized crime use the situation for drug smuggling opportunity while exasperation from law enforcement also continues to grow.
The out-of-control situation is to the point now, says Brandon Judd of the union organization National Border Patrol Council, that policy now no longer even includes a “notice to appear” citation. The policy applies to anyone who doesn’t have a felony record and who claims they have continuously lived in the United States since January 2014.
“The willful failure to show up for court appearances by persons that were arrested and released by the Border Patrol has become an extreme embarrassment for the Department of Homeland Security,” a Washington Times article reports about testimony to a House subcommittee on immigration. Judd also gave testimony that criminal cartels “have specifically recruited and sent tens of thousands of children to flood the border in order to distract agents and create new chances to smuggle drugs across,” according to the news story. Judd cited research from the Center for Immigration Studies.
As the House subcommittee heard testimony on the chaos related to the Central American influx, immigrant-rights advocates continue pointing to the dangers of those western hemisphere countries with the highest murder rates. Reported murder rate numbers say El Salvador leads the pack with 103 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants; Honduras is third-worst with a rate of 57 homicides, and Guatemala is fifth-worst with 30 per 100,000 people.
“These children are doing the only thing they can — they are running for their lives,” Wendy Young told The Washington Times. Young is president of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), an organization that assists children applying for protection in the U.S.