Immigration News Update: Attorney General Eric Holder and Mexican, Central American Counterparts Talk Unaccompanied Immigrant Children
The U.S. Department of Justice has confirmed Attorney General Eric Holder visited Mexico City to meet with fellow attorneys general from Mexico and across Central America.
According to DOJ spokesman Brian Fallon, Holder met with attorneys general from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico to address the immigration situation including the increased number of undocumented unaccompanied minors. As Latin Post reported, Mexican authorities have deported over 13,000 of the 14,000 undocumented minors who traveled without a parent or guardian. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection revealed 66,127 unaccompanied children were apprehended between Oct. 1, 2013, and Aug. 31, 2014.
"The group discussed ways to improve public safety across Central America in order to address the underlying factors that have contributed to the flow of unaccompanied minors across the Southwest border of the United States," said Fallon. "Specifically, the group considered strategies about how to best confront the smugglers of these unaccompanied children, the violent gangs who victimize them in their home countries, and the cartels who tax or exploit them in their passage."
Most of the children apprehended at the southwest U.S. border have come from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The CBP noted 50,303 apprehensions were from the three Central American countries while Mexican minors represented 14,702 encounters. The apprehension of unaccompanied children along the southwest border is an 88 percent increase from the fiscal year of 2013 when only 33,209 minors were caught.
"Going forward, the Attorneys General agreed to create a high-level working group with representatives of each Attorney General's office in order to develop an integrated strategy to deal efficiently with this issue," said Fallon.
The working group is scheduled to have its first meeting in the "coming weeks." The group is tasked to develop a "coordinated plan of action" that will be presented during a future joint meeting of the attorney generals of the five countries.
While Mexico deported more than 13,000 children, BuzzFeed's John Stanton noted none of the apprehended unaccompanied minors were deported from the U.S. A DHS spokesperson undocumented children in the U.S. have to be processed through the country's legal system. The immigration legal system, however, has a backlog of cases. The DOJ recognized that the U.S. immigration courts have a backlog of over 375,000 cases, approximately 50,000 more cases than in 2012.
President Barack Obama announced he may address the immigration situation with an executive action in November, which is a couple months later than originally projected by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. Obama said the DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has provided the "ground work" by presenting preliminary ideas for his executive action. He noted politics did "shift" the discussion of immigration following the increased number of the unaccompanied immigrant children this summer.
According to the White House, approximately 150,000 unaccompanied undocumented children are estimated to cross the U.S. border by 2015.
Based on preliminary Pew Research Center estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, overall, 11.3 million "unauthorized" immigrants live in the U.S. as of March 2013, an increase of 100,000. In comparison to 1990, the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. was 3.5 million.
Subscribe to Latin Post!
Sign up for our free newsletter for the Latest coverage!