Thousands of Twitter users spent the weekend asking #WhereAreTheChildren? The viral hashtag sprang up in response to a now widely shared New York Times investigation that found the federal government had been unable to make contact with 1,475 unaccompanied minors awaiting deportation hearings.
Thousands of Twitter users spent the Memorial Day weekend asking #WhereAreTheChildren?
The viral hashtag sprang up in response to a now widely shared New York Times investigation that found the federal government had been unable to make contact with 1,475 unaccompanied minors awaiting deportation hearings, according to Vox.
However, immigration advocates argue the real immigration crisis is the Trump administration’s new policy of separating undocumented families apprehended at the US border — a policy that may have gotten conflated with the “missing” children story that went viral this weekend.
Both stories raised concerns about the same issue: how the United States treats children who enter the country without legal status.
But advocates worry significantly more about the new policy of separation than the so-called “missing” children. They fear that this policy — which has already led to more than 600 children being separated from their parents — will create traumatic situations for families and overwhelm the very immigration infrastructure put in place to protect these minors.
Hundreds of these situations are playing out now for families that tried to cross into the United States. The Trump administration estimates that it has apprehended 638 adults trying to cross into the country without documentation since the new separation policy began. They were traveling with a total of 658 children.
Notably, most of these individuals have not been convicted of crimes.
Many are arriving in the United States planning to seek asylum from horrific violence in Central America, particularly Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The United Nations estimates that the number of refugees seeking asylum from these places has increased sixteenfold since 2011.
This issue remains, should these families seeking refuge be allowed in the US?
The issue, according to The National Review, is a moral one. “There is obviously a moral cost to separating a parent from a child and almost everyone would prefer not to do it,” said author Rich Lowry.
“But, under current policy and with the current resources, the only practical alternative is letting family units who show up at the border live in the country for the duration. Not only does this make a mockery of our laws, it creates an incentive for people to keep bringing children with them.”
It’s a problem that experts call “a catch 22.”
“It’s a very complex problem– we have to make sure no more people cross the border illegally or we are going to have the same issue again,” Katarina Long, a Senior Attorney at Cella & Associates, told The Crime Report.
“But then again, there’s no way to build one wall because people always find a way to cross. It’s a catch 22.”
Megan Hadley is a reporter at The Crime Report. She welcomes comments from readers.