With the number of children crossing the Mexican border without parents skyrocketing, the U.S. Senate just appropriated $2 billion for the Obama administration to throw at the problem, that’s $1.1 billion more than the the administration had asked for “in his budget proposal for the Health and Human Services division that cares for and houses immigrant children caught alone at the border. It would effectively come from yet unspecified changes in mandatory programs.”
Between 2008 and 2011, the number of children landing in the custody of HHS’s Refugee Resettlement fluctuated between 6,000 and 7,500 per year. In 2012 border agents apprehended 13,625 unaccompanied children and that number surged even more — to over 24,000 — last year. The total is expected to be as high as 90,000 this year.
The deal also allows Health and Human Services to shift additional money from other programs if the number of parent-less illegal immigrants grows beyond the currently estimated 90,000 this year. In a very real sense, it represents an open spigot of money for the administration capable of flowing as freely as the southern border.
The full Senate still has to weigh in on the issue, as does the House of Representatives.
Most children caught crossing the border alone are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala and cannot be quickly repatriated.
Under federal law, the children are supposed to be turned over to HHS within 72 hours. Most are then reunited with parents or other relatives already living in the United States.
Because of the massive influx of children this year, the Border Patrol has been forced to house many children in local patrol stations and recently has moved some young immigrants to Nogales, Arizona, where they are being quartered temporarily in a warehouse.