Vice President Joe Biden is extending a planned trip to Central America by adding a stop in Guatemala later this week. The move comes in response to the current immigration crisis unfolding across the Southwestern United States, in which the number of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the border has surged exponentially. The additional stop, which will occur Friday, will involve Biden meeting with the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador, as well as high-ranking officials from Honduras, to discuss what course of action to take regarding the unaccompanied migrant children. These three countries have had some of the highest rates of children crossing into America during the recent rise in immigration.
According to a senior official, ” Our [the Obama administration’s] top priority is to manage this urgent humanitarian situation. The entire U.S. administration is engaged in addressing the situation, in making sure these children are housed and fed and receive medical treatment, but at the same time also realize the crucial importance of stemming the tide of migration.”
Critics of the Obama administration’s immigration policy say that it has encouraged the rise in migrants crossing the border by offering a false hope. Programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows amnesty from deportation for immigrant children who pursue education or a military career in the U.S., are frequently cited by critics as overly permissive.
The Obama administration, Biden included, has maintained that this is a misperception, and that the recent spike in immigration can be attributed to the poor economies and violent conditions of many Central American nations. Regardless of the cause, there appears to be no end in sight regarding unaccompanied immigrant children crossing into the U.S. Almost 50,000 children have already been detained by border patrol agents this fiscal year. That number is already more than twice the amount from the past year and it will, in all likelihood, continue to grow.