President Barack Obama has said that tens of thousands of kids illegally migrating from Central America have created a “humanitarian crisis,” and called for parents to stop sending their children north as they might not even reach the US.
“We don't even know how many of these kids don't make it, and may have been waylaid into sex trafficking or killed because they fell off a train,” Obama stated in an interview with ABC.
The one such train, known as the Beast, has become notorious over the globe for carrying thousands of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America to the US each year.
Travelers either find places inside the carriages or strap themselves onto the roof for the journey, also braving potential assaults, robberies and bee attacks on the way. The many-day trip often ends in fatalities and injuries, as migrants fall asleep or pass out on the roof and then fall off the carriage.
“Our message absolutely is don't send your children unaccompanied, on trains or through a bunch of smugglers,” Obama said. “If they do make it, they'll get sent back. More importantly, they may not make it.”
By now 52,000 minors, primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, have been arrested along the US-Mexico border since October – the figures are a leap from last fiscal year’s 24,000.
A further 39,000 adults with small kids were detained over this year.
The majority of these illegal immigrants come from Central America, with a huge percentage begin young women and kids under 13, officials stated.
As New York Times reported, families and children have become a high-profit, low-risk business for Mexican drug cartel bosses who have seized control of human smuggling across the Rio Grande River. They now allegedly offer “family packages” up to $7,500 for bringing a minor alone or a mother with kids, according to migrants.
In fact, undocumented immigrant minors cannot be returned to their homeland straightaway: they need to be processed, then given essential care. Only afterwards does the government let them free to their relatives or foster parents.
“If they come from a non-contiguous country, then there's a lengthy process,” Obama told main ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos.
Over 50 per cent of the coming children are placed with US families, many of them are adopted and remain in the US, Obama administration stated.
The situation comes as senators demand that President pushes back illegal immigrants.
Over 35 senators have signed a letter to Obama declaring that the leader should “personally make clear” that those violating the border controls will not get special treatment.
“The present situation begs your personal efforts to clarify US immigration laws and to spur action from leaders of the primary sending countries,” the letter also read, the Washington Times reported.
The latest news comes on the heels of the government announcing its plans to turn an empty, 55,000-square-foot warehouse into an immigration processing center in McAllen, Texas – illustrating the authorities’ lack of resources to deal with the illegal minors’ influx in the state.
About 1,000 minors are already being held in a makeshift warehouse in Arizona, which has led to a torrent of outraged reports in media. However, immigration officials have found the influx to be too large to effectively manage with their current resources.