It will likely be years before the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors illegally coming to America face any action related to their immigration status, according to an Associated Press investigation.
Since October, Border Patrol has apprehended more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors — a 92 percent increase over last fiscal year. The government is expecting more than 90,000 unaccompanied minors by the end of fiscal year 2014.
The unaccompanied minors and family units, largely from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, are fleeing poverty and violence and flooding across the border amid rumors of a free pass into the United States.
While the Obama administration has started to combat the rumor mill of “misinformation” by stressing that the new arrivals are not eligible for current policies shielding illegal immigrants from deportation such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), according to the AP, many of the unaccompanied minors will be allowed to live in the United States, attend free public schools, and perhaps work for years regardless of government rhetoric.
“They almost never go home,” Gary Mead, former ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Director, told the AP. “It’s not a process that ultimately ends in easy resolutions or clear-cut resolutions.”
According to the AP, while the youths are subject to deportation, the system makes it difficult to deal with them hastily. Much of the reason for this is a slow immigration process that finds the courts backed up and immigrants allowed to stay in the country for years as their immigration cases crawl through the system.
Additionally, the AP notes, a 2002 law requires unaccompanied minors to be reunited with parents, relatives, or sponsors in the United States after they are apprehended and turned over to Health and Human Services.
Further, the process requires the immigrants return for their trial dates, something about one-fourth of the immigrants fail to do, the AP reports.
“The longer the process goes, the less likely it is that people will return,” Doris Meissner, a former head of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, told the AP.