Undocumented immigrant children, some as young as 5 years old and traveling with no parent or adult, are being dropped off by the busload in Arizona as the Department of Homeland Security attempts to grapple with what is fast becoming a humanitarian disaster on our southern border.
According to CNN, the federal transport of “unaccompanied alien children,” ages 5 to 17, is part of a larger resettlement process, as Homeland Security and Border Patrol facilities in Texas have become “overwhelmed” by the recent influx of illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico and Central America.
From the bus stops in Tucson and Phoenix, immigrants are instructed to report to the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office within 15 days of arrival and are then sent to various destinations for holding. Photos and videos continue to surface on social media and news outlets depicting crowded, ill-equipped U.S. holding facilities.
“The situation with the kids is that they came by themselves, they have no relatives here, and the consulates can’t keep up,” a Homeland Security spokesman told CNN. “They’re in limbo. There’s no one (back home) to deport them to.”
President Obama has called this an “urgent humanitarian situation” and is reportedly setting aside $2 million to hire lawyers for the children.
Critics of the situation call it an “administration-made disaster,” attributing the unprecedented 12-fold spike in underage migrant children to Obama’s controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Rolled out in 2012, the program allowed many illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors to escape deportation for two years. The White House gave them another two-year window last week.
In a letter to President Obama last Tuesday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, called the operation a “a disturbing example of a deliberate failure to enforce border security policies and repair a broken immigration system.” Brewer, who said the federal government never formally informed her administration of the practice, has demanded answers for the “unwarranted policy of dumping.” In the meantime, the state has made efforts to accommodate the incoming children—ordering medical supplies, providing nutritional meals and supplying pillows and bedding until enough mattresses arrive.
“I am disturbed and outraged that President Obama’s administration continues to implement this dangerous and inhumane policy, meanwhile neglecting to answer crucial questions our citizens demand and deserve,” Brewer said.