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Surge in kids crossing border alone strains patrol



By Alicia A. Caldwell

WASHINGTON (AP) - Border Patrol agents could arrest as many as 90,000 children trying to illegally cross the Mexican border alone this year, more than three times the number of children apprehended in 2013, according to a draft internal Homeland Security memorandum reviewed by The Associated Press.

In the May 30 memo from Border Patrol Deputy Chief Ronald Vitiello to the National Security Council's transborder security directorate, Vitiello said Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics estimates that by 2015 the number of children apprehended while traveling alone could grow to 142,000.

The government has previously estimated that more than 60,000 children could be apprehended along the border this year. All the estimates are for the government's fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Children apprehended with their parents are not part of this count of illegal border crossings.

Most of the children caught crossing alone are from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and have been apprehended in the Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley Sector in South Texas. That sector is the now the Border Patrol's busiest area along the Mexican border and has seen a significant increase in the number of border crossers from Central America.

Customs and Border Protection said the memo "appears to be an internal, incomplete working document."

The spike in children trying cross the border alone has forced DHS to divert resources away from other missions, including combating human and drug trafficking, Vitiello wrote in his four-page memo.

The increase in apprehensions has also led the government to fly some migrants who are from countries other than Mexico to other parts of the border, including Arizona, for processing by Border Patrol agents in less-busy sectors. Many families from countries other than Mexico have been released on their own recognizance in the U.S. while they await deportation proceedings in immigration court.

Releasing those people and taking other actions such as reuniting children caught alone at the border with parents or other relatives already in the U.S. serve as "incentives to additional individuals to follow the same path," Vitiello wrote.

The number of children found trying to cross the Mexican border without parents has spiked in recent years. Between 2008 and 2011, 6,000 to 7,500 children per year ended up in the custody of the Health and Human Services Department's Office of Refugee Resettlement. In 2012 border agents apprehended 13,625 unaccompanied children and that number surged to more than 24,000 last year.

Vitiello's memo was drafted just days before President Barack Obama declared the situation on the border an "urgent humanitarian situation" and appointed the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate, to manage the government's response. In a presidential memo issued Monday, Obama said the government would temporarily house some of the children at two military bases.

Last month the Office of Management and Budget said in a two-page letter to the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee that the increase in the number of children crossing alone would likely cost the government at least $2.28 billion, about $1.4 billion more than the administration had initially asked lawmakers to budget for its "Unaccompanied Alien Children" program.

Rampant crime and poverty across Central America and a desire to reunite with parents or other relatives are thought to be driving many of the young immigrants.

Detained children are supposed to be transferred within 72 hours to HHS to be housed in shelters until they can be reunited with parents or guardians. Officials then begin searching for relatives or other potential guardians in the U.S.

The average stay for a child in a U.S. shelter last year was 45 days. Most are reunited with family to wait for their immigration cases to move forward. Migrant kids remain in removal proceedings even after they're reunited with their parents here, though many have been able to win permission from a judge to stay in the U.S.

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krp2 June 05 2014 at 8:46 PM

No this isn't some type of coordinated effort is it? Somehow all these kids from different countries just decided one day to get up and cross a border from Mexico into the U.S. illegally! That is showing us just how the WORLD thinks of us!! We are too stupid and will accept children with open arms followed shortly thereafter by millions of their relatives. Obama wants this which is why he has had people in Mexico signing people up for Obamacare and food stamps etc.,. Obama is going to sign an excutive order providing amnesty to all these children and Americans are too stupid to see the handwriting on the wall. How much more does this ass have to do before Americans realize he hates America?!!!

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22 replies
Kathy and Joe June 05 2014 at 8:48 PM

They should all be turned away. I don't want my tax dollars spent on illegals. If they got themselves to the border they can get themselves home again.

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13 replies
richpostal1 June 05 2014 at 8:53 PM

2.2 billion spent on illegal kids sneaking into united states......and that is why this countrty is broke

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6 replies
mociambz June 05 2014 at 8:31 PM

just another of democrats destroying america

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7 replies
Fei Hu June 05 2014 at 9:03 PM

They do not migrate to this country by themselves. They are led by adult coyotes as the grown up illegals are from various countries.
Because of all the amnesty talk in the past few months by Washington, they want to be in on it if and when it occurs.

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2 replies
balaland Fei Hu June 06 2014 at 11:15 AM

I agree.............

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Sue Fei Hu June 06 2014 at 12:14 PM

You are wrong. They are by themselves. Look at my post above and do some research. This problem has been going on for a long, long time. The three countries involved have abject poverty. Until that changes the kids will keep coming.

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5 replies
Larry June 05 2014 at 9:41 PM

And yet the Commandant-In-Chief would rather send troops to foreign countries than to guard our own battered border.

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8 replies
elkhartbiker June 05 2014 at 8:12 PM

Put their butts on a plane and send 'em back with a warning if they're caught sneaking in here again theyll be executed.

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10 replies
joe June 05 2014 at 8:14 PM

They should have border hunting each permit would cost $1000 I would do it. Then we could make money on it at the same time.

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2 replies
heh1111 joe June 05 2014 at 9:18 PM

jose, is being a poster child for gun laws and having serious problems your only occupation?

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5 replies
vafilec_39 joe June 06 2014 at 11:05 AM

That's a thought but...........think they should tag them before sending them back (like our pets), then they have to pass thru a machine that lets us know when they make their return trips. Detectors in stores where they would shop could make them easy to spot. Fly them back to their country and drop them over their old neighborhoods. Not parachute......drop. Altho I have the right to carry, I could not shoot a human being unless my life or my family was in danger of being killed. That would make me a bad person to just shoot someone that was unarmed.

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Mary Ann June 05 2014 at 8:04 PM

I do believe that the dems and others want TEXAS to become a democrat state.

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8 replies
catlawmen June 06 2014 at 4:50 AM

I am so glad to see more and more Americans finally voicing their opinions on Illegal Immigration. I mean are we suppose to feel sorry for these kids, I sure don't! We all need to take a stand and demand tighter border controls. As for the person who stated we are all equal, really I am quite sure that the European and Asian immigrants that paid to be here legally would argue with you. I agree with the statements that we are sadly a broken country. I don't care if an illegal has been here for 20 years they were breaking the law and need to pay in full for their green card just like everyone else who came into the US or be immediately deported. I am sick and tired of hearing about the money we spend dealing with these illegals from the Hispanic nations. We need to take a stand and stop it and send them home

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