posted at 09:00
Author Name: The Economist
Child Migrants Swamp The Immigration Debate
The Mexican side, less than 100 yards away, is more festive: dozens of children are splashing in the shallow water and a party barge floats by, blaring music. The sudden influx of children into the United States has nearly overwhelmed the agencies that must deal with it. Detention facilities for children who cross the border illegally are horribly overcrowded. The reason so many of them have decided to leave at once is a widespread rumour that Mr Obama's administration has relaxed the barriers against children-and their mothers if the children are young enough-entering the United States. A leaked border-agency memo based on interviews with 230 women and children apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley concluded that they had crossed the border mainly because they expected to be allowed to stay. Granted, in 2012 Mr Obama ordered that many illegal immigrants brought to America as children should have their deportation proceedings deferred. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorisation Act of 2008 border agents cannot hold children for more than 72 hours. "Children are pushed into the hands of criminals," fumed Ted Cruz, a Texan senator, "Because the Obama administration has made it clear to the world that any child who arrives, regardless of whether they are granted formal legal status, will be permitted to stay." Mr Obama, he added, showed "An outright refusal to enforce the law".

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