Texas Governor Rick Perry recently deployed some 1,000 National Guard troops to Texas’s borders in response to what’s developing into an immigration and humanitarian crisis. Unaccompanied minors from Mexico and Central America are crossing our southern border at an unprecedented rate.
This is creating huge financial and logistical issues for the states affected – the costs of policing and processing these undocumented aliens is rising astronomically.
But the recent deployment of troops isn’t actually aimed at curbing illegal border crossings. They won’t be apprehending anyone – not that there’s any place to put them if they did. Rather, their presence is being used to deter entry (despite the fact that evidence shows that children are actually approaching authorities for help once they arrive at the border), or alternatively, to assist with humanitarian needs of immigrants. So at an estimated cost to the state of Texas of $12 million per month, is it really worth the additional expense?
Maybe not, but something needs to be done. Currently there are some 243 judges in 59 immigration courts in the U.S. As of the end of July, those courts have a backlog of nearly 380,000 cases. The typical timeframe to clear a case through immigration court is now anywhere from three to five years. New cases are being set for hearings as far off as 2018, and if the flood continues unabated, government estimates peg next year’s influx of undocumented minors to reach 150,000 individuals.
While I usually don’t mind when our legislators sit on their thumbs or deadlock themselves into inaction, I do believe that Congress needs to do what we pay them to do and figure out a way to fix this issue. Not only is it a burden on states and on citizens, but it also creates humanitarian issues for the children themselves. The journey to our border for these unaccompanied minors is hard, and subjects these children to terrible dangers like malnourishment, dehydration, and even rape or death at the hands of the coyotes they pay to smuggle them to the U.S.
I don’t pretend to know how to combat this problem, but jockeying for political position and capital for the upcoming election sure isn’t solving anything. This is a real problem that needs real solutions, and our current course of action isn’t cutting it.
Until next month,
Published in the August 2014 Edition of American Recycler News