As tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America pour over our borders, Democrats are shamelessly blaming Republicans for not passing immigration reform! As if the President’s executive order not to deport illegal immigrants brought here as children had nothing to do with it, as well as the rumors throughout Central America of the impending amnesty.
One complicating factor is a law designed to protect children being victimized by sex trafficking by requiring that unaccompanied foreign children be given a full administrative hearing. That well-intentioned law is preventing the children from being sent back. Charles Lane explains after the break.
From Charles Lane, A national immigration scandal – The Washington Post:
President George W. Bush signed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act on Dec. 23, 2008, thinking he was fighting the global traffic in sex slaves, many of them children. The Democratic Congress that passed the bill agreed. Hence its title, an homage to 19th-century Britain’s greatest foe of the slave trade.
Half a decade later, the Wilberforce Act has mutated into a source of chaos, the victims of which are children, and the greatest beneficiaries, human traffickers.
This law’s special mistake was to guarantee an immigration hearing to unaccompanied minors arriving in the United States on the theory they might be victims of sex trafficking and to let them live with U.S.-based family, if any, until a judge was available.
Kids from next-door Mexico and Canada were excepted. But the bill’s authors apparently forgot about Central America or underestimated the desire of Central Americans who reside in the United States, with or without documents, to extract their children from violence and poverty back home, even at the risk of a dangerous journey north.
They failed to anticipate that trafficking mafias in Mexico would market temporary entry pending the delayed hearings as a new form of “permiso” (“permit”) and can charge families $10,000 per child to pursue it.
So, here we are: The Wilberforce Act, logical and humane on paper, has been overthrown by an influx of Central American kids that reached 10,146 in fiscal 2012, 20,805 in fiscal 2013 and 39,133 between last October and June 15, according to the Los Angeles Times.
They’re sprawled on the floors of dingy detention centers across the Southwest — if they didn’t get lost, kidnapped or killed during the 1,500-mile Middle Passage through Mexico. A boy from Guatemala, Gilberto Ramos, described variously as 11 or 15, recently perished near La Joya, Tex., while trying to get into the United States to earn money to help his mother.
If they do find their way to a stable home in the United States, the children will likely skip their far-in-the-future hearings and grow up undocumented, living in the shadows even under the version of immigration reform favored by President Obama — though maybe we can look forward to a brutal political debate over legalizing them a decade from now.
This isn’t anyone’s idea of sustainable immigration; at least it shouldn’t be. Some call the situation a humanitarian crisis. I prefer “national scandal.”