Two years ago, the Obama administration referred to the influx of Central American children and families coming into the U.S. as a “humanitarian crisis.” This year, border patrol agents have been apprehending immigrants claiming asylum in even larger numbers, while the increasing backlog in the courts further reduce the chance of their deportation.
Former Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, David Aguilar, states the immigration judge docket system is currently backlogged with around 800,000 cases on the dockets. Aguilar also claims that the government’s inability to remove these immigrants back to their country of origin is drawing more people into the country illegally.
According to the latest CBP numbers, agents detained 27,754 unaccompanied minors from Central America in the first six months of the fiscal year, almost double last year’s total, 15,616. Furthermore, 32,117 immigrants travelling as families were apprehended, almost triple last year’s total of 13,913 and well above 2014’s surge of 19,830.
“These people are allowed to remain here. They are given employment authorization — therefore, they are sending a message back home ‘come on over’,” Aguilar said.
Other agents in the system usually attribute mass migration to a number of certain factors. Due to the lack of jail space and the backlog in courts, it can take five years or more for an immigrant to have their case heard before a judge. Meanwhile, the person’s family is released to a relative or an aid group, and few are ever deported.
Violence, poverty and lawlessness in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala is also recognized as a factor forcing families to move north in search of a better life.
Either way, agents fear that the rate they are being let into the country means their criminal records are hardly ever checked.
Shawn Moran, a Border Patrol agent in California said “We don’t know who we’re releasing and we don’t know what they’re capable of. You can’t find out if they’ve murdered, you can’t find out if they’ve molested minors.”