Their Poor, Huddled, Underage Masses

Fox News is blaming Obama for the massive influx of migrant kids into the US:

Among the policies that allegedly are creating a magnet for illegal immigrants is what’s known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The unilateral policy in 2012 allowed some illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to defer deportation — among other criteria, they must have come to the U.S. before they were 16 years old, be younger than 31 on June 15, 2012, and have been in the country since at least June 15, 2007, and have no criminal history.

The administration extended that program earlier this month, allowing the immigrants to apply for protection from deportation for another two years.

Ian Gordon’s reporting tells a very different story:

Many of the kids are coming to help a family in crushing poverty. Some are trying to join a parent who left years ago, before the recession and increased border enforcement slowed down adult immigration. Still others are leaving because of violence from family members and gangs. According to a report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 58 percent of the 400 youth the agency interviewed “had suffered, been threatened, or feared serious harm” that might merit international protection. “This is becoming less like an immigration issue and much more like a refugee issue,” says Wendy Young, executive director of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a DC-based nonprofit that helps unaccompanied immigrant kids find pro bono legal services. “Because this really is a forced migration. This is not kids choosing voluntarily to leave.”

Bob Ortega hears the same thing:

Gang violence in El Salvador and in urban areas of Guatemala has escalated dramatically in recent months since a weak truce among rival gangs has evaporated, said Elizabeth G. Kennedy, a Fulbright scholar reached Monday in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador. “Half of them are fleeing for their lives,” she said.

Kids from Mexico are returned across the border, while others are placed in one of eighty temporary shelters, sometimes at military bases, for the duration of their deportation proceedings. Caitlin Dickson parses new allegations by immigrants rights groups that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) agents have been persistently abusing migrant children under their care:

In addition to the descriptions of freezing cold, overcrowded and unsanitary holding cells, one in four children referenced by Wednesday’s complaint said they were subjected to physical abuse—sexual, beatings, and even torture-style stress positions—by CBP officials. More than half of them reported sexual harassment, death threats, and other forms of verbal abuse. More than half said they were denied medical care and about 70 percent of them say they were detained beyond the 72-hour limit—though many report that it was hard to tell what time of day it was or how many days had passed because fluorescent lights were kept on at all hours.

Over 80 percent of the kids interviewed said they were denied adequate food and water. Many say they became sick after eating the frozen or moldy food the CBP officials gave them. One child said that while he was in custody, the drinking water came from a toilet tank. Many of the children reported being shackled while transported to and from CBP facilities, and 30 percent said that, when they were finally released, money and personal belongings that had been confiscated by CBP officials were not returned to them.

Karen McVeigh adds:

Reports of such abuses have been documented for at least a decade, the groups said, but no reforms have been implemented and agents are rarely held to account. For instance, the AIC found recently that 97% of the 809 abuse complaints – 60% of which involved abuse of migrant children – filed against Border Patrol agents between January 2009 and January 2012 resulted in the classification “no action taken”.

The head of the CBP’s internal affairs unit was removed from his post on Monday. The Obama administration is working on a program offering legal aid to the migrant children.