WASHINGTON, July 14 (UPI) –
Forty undocumented immigrants were deported to Honduras from a New Mexico detention facility Monday, the first since a spike in Central American immigrants became a burgeoning political crisis in recent months.
The Department of Homeland Security said 40 Honduran adults and children were aboard a flight from the airport in Roswell, N.M., after being held at a detention center in Artesia that opened last month.
A DHS spokeswoman said they “expect additional adults with children will be returned to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador soon, based on the results of removal proceedings or expedited removal.”
Some 80,000 immigrants from Central America have been deported since last October, less than half of the more than 200,000 who have been detained by immigration officials in the same period.
Of that number, more than 50,000 are unaccompanied children, who have attempted to enter the U.S. in increasing numbers as they flee violence in their home countries.
Many traveled to the U.S. on false rumors that if they arrived before a June deadline, they would be allowed to stay legally. DHS and the State Department began an information campaign to try to correct this misinformation and dissuade parents from handing their children over to the coyote organizations who transport them through Mexico to the southwest U.S. border.
Earlier this month, the Obama administration asked Congress for emergency funding to more quickly process the newly arriving children and beef up security at the border, as well as resources in Central America to improve those countries’ ability to receive repatriated immigrants.
But Democrats and Republicans are deeply divided on how to fix what all agree is a humanitarian crisis, and both sides have eagerly pointed the finger to blame the other for exacerbating it.