The unprecedented rise in families and unaccompanied children arriving in the Southwestern states of the U.S. may be fueled by rumors circulating throughout Central America. According to the Los Angeles Times, many of the recent immigrants have alleged that the motivation for their trip was a rumor suggesting that parents who arrived in the United States with a child would be allowed to stay indefinitely.
As the numbers of immigrants crossing the border has risen at an extreme pace, immigration officials and the Department of Homeland Security have struggled to quickly design a course of action. Resultantly, many arriving families have been dropped off at bus stations and instructed to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office near their ultimate destination within 15 days. News of this policy, the result of an expedited approach to resolving the situation, has fueled these rumors in Central America, creating a self-perpetuating cycle. Dan Kowalski, an immigration attorney in Austin, Texas, explained that smugglers may be furthering these rumors in order to convince more immigrants to enlist their services in crossing the border.
“Desperate migrants from Central America may cling to any slim reed of hope. This false rumor of a ‘new opportunity’ is leading some to embark on a dangerous journey. They have no idea what they’re facing. The smugglers are milking this situation for all it’s worth,” Kowalski told the source.
Perhaps even more urgent is the amount of children arriving without parents. Over this past weekend alone, more than 1000 unaccompanied immigrant children (UICs) were transferred from southern Texas to a makeshift holding facility in Nogales, Arizona, where they await further processing. These UICs are expected to remain in Nogales for up to three days before being transferred to facilities designed to host them for up to 120 days, though speculation remains as to what will ultimately be done to resolve the fate of these children, some of whom are as young as 1 year old.