CURATED BY Dara Lind
2014-07-23 16:15:42 -0400
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Since 2011, hundreds of thousands of children have taken a journey like this one described by Mother Jones last year:
Audelina Aguilar set off on the six-week journey along the migrant trail at 14, leaving her parents and nine younger siblings behind in the highlands of rural Guatemala. She rode atop Mexican freight trains, from Chiapas in the south to Tamaulipas in the north. She fought off a would-be rapist with the help of the only other woman in the group, who screamed, "She's a baby!" She walked through the South Texas wilderness for four days, trying to steer clear of the assailant, who was still with the group, and of the human remains they encountered along the way.
Over the past few years, the US has seen a rapid increase in the number of unaccompanied children like Audelina crossing into the US illegally — most of them from Central America. This year, the number of children is at a crisis point: 77,000 unaccompanied children will be apprehended by Border Patrol agents in fiscal year 2014. That's nearly twice as much as last year.
Additionally, this year, there's been a rapid increase in the number of parents arriving with young children. Tens of thousands of parents have been apprehended this year. Both of these influxes have been concentrated in the Rio Grande Valley on the Texas/Mexico border.
On July 8th, President Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion in funding to deal with the children and families who have arrived. Congress is currently debating how much funding to give. They're also debating whether other changes to the law should be made — such as changing the laws governing unaccompanied child migrants, so that it will be easier to immediately turn back children entering from Central America.
Meanwhile, the federal government is putting thousands of migrant families in detention, expediting their court hearings, and beginning to deport them.
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