It is easy to come up with the legal justification to deny these foreign undocumented children access and entry into the American legal system and social services structure. But the country faces a moral dilemma not seen in decades as the immigration battle turns into a human rights battle. The children being placed on a hazardous journey through their respective countries to reach the United States border are innocents who have been left to their own means and they and their families are being abused and scammed.
It has been reported that human smugglers are making a substantial profit off of the families who are paying to send their children to the United States. Media reports are that smugglers are charging $3,000 to $4,000 a child to smuggle the children to the United States. In addition Mexican drug cartels are cashing in on the influx of children trying to cross the border. Department of Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson has stated that smugglers are lying to parents telling them that once they reach the United States they will be able to stay. In a special congressional hearing Secretary Johnson stated that “Smuggling organizations are creating a misinformation campaign to make money.”
To combat the misinformation, Johnson sent out a special letter to Spanish media outlets which said in part “In the hands of smugglers, many children are traumatized and psychologically abused by their journey, or worse, beaten, starved, sexually assaulted or sold into the sex trade; they are exposed to psychological abuse at the hands of criminals. Conditions for an attempt to cross our southern border illegally will become much worse as it gets hotter in July and August.”
Many people have asked why can’t the children simply be returned to their country of origin? The answer is because of an act passed in 2008 by Congress. The “William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Re-authorization Act” prohibits vulnerable children from being deported. Johnson has stated “The law requires me to turn them over to Health and Human Services within 72 hours for shelter.”
The Obama administration is currently engaged in talks with officials from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to try to stop the human tide of children at the border. However, the violence and poverty within these countries are still the driving force behind the exodus of children.