Trending
MOST READ
Coming Out in College, A Survival Guide

Coming Out in College, A Survival Guide

News: Ah, college! Whether you’re new to a local campus this semester or you’ve been before, there’s something about the teeming... By Richard Farias 9/3/2014
What Do You Get A 1-Year-Old NDO? Enforcement

What Do You Get A 1-Year-Old NDO? Enforcement

News: This week marks a year since the San Antonio City Council amended its 20-year-old non-discrimination ordinance to include gender identity, gender orientation... By Mark Reagan 9/3/2014
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Girl in a Coma’s Nina Diaz Inaugurates Tobin Center’s River Walk Plaza

Girl in a Coma’s Nina Diaz Inaugurates Tobin Center’s River Walk Plaza

Music: With her lifetime’s work rooted in the SA trio Girl in a Coma, 2014 marked the year for singer Nina Diaz to branch out on her own thing. In the practice... By Matt Stieb 9/3/2014
Flavor File: Folc Concept Opens, Augie\'s Opens Steakhouse and a New Food Truck

Flavor File: Folc Concept Opens, Augie's Opens Steakhouse and a New Food Truck

Food & Drink: Folc, the first of three adjacent concepts by chef Luis Colon, wine director Cecilia Barretto and bar director David Naylor... By Jessica Elizarraras 9/3/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Migrant Nation

As border apprehensions fall, a serious 'minor' problem emerges

Photo: , License: N/A


Soon after the number of undocumented immigrants nabbed at the border plummeted in 2011 — 340,000 caught compared to highs upwards of 1 million annually — we got news from the Pew Hispanic Center that migration from Mexico to the U.S. has essentially stopped, and maybe even reversed.

Put a heavy asterisk next to that fact, however. Even with such record-low numbers, an unsettling trend is surfacing, with the feds reporting a notable surge in unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, caught crossing into the U.S. And unlike any other legal system in the country, those minors caught up within the immigration court system, unless lucky enough to score pro bono help, will be tasked with acting as their own lawyers within the frustratingly complex patchwork of current immigration law if looking for asylum or relief in the U.S.

South Texas shelters for such children are bursting at capacity, and at least 100 last month were transferred to a temporary shelter at Lackland Air Force Base, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the agency overseeing the Office of Refugee Resettlement. According to HHS figures, from October 2011 thru March of this year, 5,252 unaccompanied kids landed in U.S. custody, a staggering 93 percent increase from the same period last year. For March 2012, the latest month with available data, 1,390 kids were detained at the border, compared to just 655 for March 2011, or 687 in March 2010. The agency says the majority will eventually be reunited with families.

Nonprofits and immigrant rights groups working with undocumented children are struggling to pinpoint exactly why more minors are fleeing to the U.S. There's worry that continued instability in Central America could be the driver. Roughly three quarters of the recent influx were teenage boys, and more than two thirds came from Guatemala, a quarter from El Salvador, and 20 percent from Honduras, countries with some of the highest homicide rates in the world. About 12 percent came from Mexico, with parts of the county still mired in drug violence.

Meredith Linsky, director of the American Bar Association's South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project, which provides legal assistance for asylum seekers and immigrant children in the Rio Grande Valley, says many of the kids speak of fleeing gang violence or economic insecurity. Linsky also suggests a recent change in Mexican law easing restrictions on travel through the country for Central American migrants may be playing a role.

But whatever the cause, the result is clear. South Texas shelters are maxed out, Linsky says, estimating such shelters now house about 600 unaccompanied minors throughout the region, up from some 400 just eight months ago.

And as more children hit the system, there's worry over how they'll fare once inside the tangled web of immigration court proceedings. "There are so few resources available already to anybody detained in South Texas, adult or children," said St. Mary's University law school professor Lee Teran, who directs the school's immigration and human rights clinic and represents a number unaccompanied minors sheltered locally. That's key, because unlike in criminal cases, where defendants get public defenders if they can't afford lawyers, those who go through immigration court must pay for their own attorney, hope to score pro bono help, or go the proceedings alone. That's often with limited English and little to no understanding of how the system works, Teran says. And it includes children fleeing violence, threats at home, abuse, as well as abandonment or neglect.

Recently in News
  • Coming Out in College, A Survival Guide Ah, college! Whether you’re new to a local campus this semester or you’ve been before, there’s something about the teeming... | 9/3/2014
  • What Do You Get A 1-Year-Old NDO? Enforcement This week marks a year since the San Antonio City Council amended its 20-year-old non-discrimination ordinance to include gender identity, gender orientation... | 9/3/2014
  • Mayoral Horserace After receiving smaller donations from individuals at house parties and cozier gatherings over the last several months, lone mayoral candidate... | 9/3/2014
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus