As many as 90,000 unaccompanied minors will arrive at the U.S. border this year. If past behavior is any precedent, most of them will probably remain in the U.S. indefinitely.
NBC News highlights the stark difference between what administration officials are claiming will happen to kids arriving on the border and what actually happens in the vast majority of cases.
The Obama administration now estimates as many as 90,000 unaccompanied
minors could be apprehended by the end of the fiscal year in September,
and insists most of them will be sent home. But the administration also
has conceded that less than 2000 child migrants are deported every year.
The story recounts the experience of about 50 kids who showed up at a New York court room last week. NBC reports the judge, “instructed just about every defendant to try to find a lawyer, and report back to court in February.” He often remarked, “Hope you enjoy the summer,” after each hearing was over.
The children are allowed to stay because many of them have experience fear or beatings back home. Some immigration attorneys even argue that “the very act of a parent allowing a child to make the extremely
dangerous trek from Central America, or sending them on their way,
should be enough to make that child eligible to stay.” In other words, arriving on the border as an unaccompanied minor is proof enough that you are eligible to stay.
The number of unaccompanied minors is expected to more than double this year (90,000 vs. 40,000 in 2013), meanwhile the number of deportations had dropped steadily since 2008. The LA Times filed a FOIA request for the figures and found that in 2008 deportation of minors hit a high of 8,143. Last year the figure was 1,669.
It may not be our official policy that minors arriving at the border are allowed to stay indefinitely but it does seem to be our defacto policy. As NBC’s report states, “No one appears to be ordered out of the country any time soon.” It’s one reason why the number of unaccompanied minors at the border has doubled every year since 2011 and is expected to be up sharply again next year.