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June 25, 2014

An Administration-Made Disaster: The South Texas Border Surge of Unaccompanied Minors

Statement for the Record on  “An Administration-Made Disaster: The South Texas Border Surge of Unaccompanied Minors” 

Submitted to the House Judiciary Committee on June 25, 2014

Overview

Over the last few months, national attention has focused on the increase in Central American migrants apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley after crossing the southern border. Primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, these migrants include unaccompanied children, parents with children, and adults. Some are seeking to reunite with family in the United States. Many are fleeing violence and persecution in their home country and have requested asylum or other protection in the United States. A rise in murders, rape, violence against women, kidnappings, extortion, and other brutalities is prompting many people to flee their homes, often in fear of violent gangs and drug cartels. It is also true that predatory elements are seeking to exploit the situation, with smugglers spreading misinformation to lure some families into paying them to transport them or their unaccompanied children to the border.

On June 20, 2014, World Refugee Day, the Obama administration announced a series of steps to address the surge at the border. In addition to announcing new aid for programs in Central America and Mexico to address gang violence, rule of law deficiencies and reintegration of returned migrants, the administration announced “additional steps to enhance enforcement and removal proceedings.” While the details were not specified, the administration stated that it was “surging government enforcement resources to increase our capacity to detain individuals and adults who bring their children with them and to handle immigration court hearings – in cases where hearings are necessary – as quickly and efficiently as possible while also protecting those who are seeking asylum.” This announcement signaled a rise in detention of children and their families as well as the potential for rushed asylum hearings.

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