Ana Rosalinda de Hernandez, the first lady of Honduras, announced on Wednesday June 18 that she would be traveling to America to collect undocumented child immigrants native to her country. The children in question have entered the U.S. as part of a recent surge in immigration that has seen over 50,000 unaccompanied youth cross the Southwestern border since October of 2013. Of those 50,000, it is estimated that approximately 13,000 hail from Honduras. In order to support the logistics of the recovery of these children, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has delegated a commission of transportation, immigration and foreign affairs officials to travel with the first lady.
The current influx of immigrants, particularly unaccompanied children, has been dubbed an “urgent humanitarian crisis” by President Barack Obama, who has enlisted the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in navigating the situation. The children who have been apprehended by border patrol authorities are being held in detainment centers across the Southwest. These centers are typically repurposed warehouses or military bases where the children are made to wait until they can be advanced through the deportation processes. One such center, which is located in in Nogales, Arizona, currently holds over 900 migrant children, predominantly from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Children arriving in the U.S. who have family here in the country have often been released to the care of those individuals. In these situations, the children are given instructions to appear in front of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office within 15 days of their discharge. Though Hernandez’s plan is well intentioned, many immigration experts, such as Lenni Benson, a professor of law at New York Law School, believe the odds of her returning to Honduras with these children to be low.
“I know of no international law, immigration law or family law that would let a national government take a child away from their parent,” Benson said to Newsweek. “I think it’s political, I think it’s compassionate political. What country wants to say it’s losing its youth.