2014 Was The Year Of The Child Immigrant Crisis, And It May Reappear In 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama’s executive action on deportation relief may have been the most groundbreaking event in immigration this year. But by and large, 2014 was the year of another immigration issue that stirred up just as much controversy: the influx of unaccompanied Central American children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The child immigrant crisis has mostly faded from headlines and political debates, as the number of unaccompanied Central American immigrant children apprehended at the border has declined from the crisis levels reached in June and July. But immigration analysts and government officials say it could bubble up again in 2015. The Obama administration has fired on all cylinders to ensure that it can respond to another surge, but critics say one of the most crucial aspects of dealing with the crisis — namely, getting immigrants access to lawyers — still hasn’t been settled.
The influx of immigrants, mainly unaccompanied children and family units from Central America, flooded shelters and Border Patrol processing stations in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley during the spring and summer. Gang violence, domestic abuse, economic calculations, rumors of leniency and the availability of smugglers promising guidance to the U.S. all fueled the flow out of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, three countries with some of the world’s highest murder rates. Children and families already fleeing violent conditions endured treacherous journeys through Mexico, often on the perilous northbound freight train known as La Bestia (or The Beast).