U.S. cautions Central American parents against sending children alone to border

Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:05pm EDT

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson gestures during the second day of Reuters CyberSecurity Summit in Washington, May 13, 2014.    REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson gestures during the second day of Reuters CyberSecurity Summit in Washington, May 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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(Reuters) - The U.S. Homeland Security secretary sought to discourage Central American parents on Thursday from sending their children to join a wave of unaccompanied migrants from the region flooding across the U.S. border.

But officials also said they are deploying the full resources of the U.S. government, including three military bases, to humanely house the young migrants in a response similar to how federal agencies handle natural disasters.

Between October and May, more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, have crossed into the United States, nearly double the number in the previous 12 months, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told a news conference in Washington.

While U.S. officials attributed the spike to poverty and rising gang violence in Central America, Johnson sought to dispel any notion by parents that their children might qualify to stay in the United States as part of immigration reform efforts before the U.S. Congress.

"Those who cross our borders today, including children, are not eligible for an earned path to citizenship pursuant to that legislation," he said. "I also wish to make clear that those apprehended at our border are priorities for removal. They are priorities for enforcement of our immigration laws regardless of age."

Federal officials under President Barack Obama have focused on turning back unauthorized immigrants stopped in border regions and deporting others elsewhere who are convicted of serious crimes.

The Obama administration has designated an Oklahoma Army base, the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, and Naval Base Ventura County in Southern California as facilities to temporarily house hundreds of unaccompanied children from this wave of border crossers.

SCHOOL AT NAVY BASE

Earlier this week, immigrant rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the government alleging systemic abuse of more than 100 unaccompanied children detained by immigration authorities.

Seeking to demonstrate the care being provided to detained migrants, federal officials on Thursday led a media tour of a former military processing center at Naval Base Ventura County where over 160 unaccompanied migrants between the ages of 13 and 17 are held.

In one room housing dozens of girls, bunk beds were neatly made with a teddy bear or plush animal placed at each pillow. The children are given bedding, T-shirts, a fleece-lined jacket and other clothing, including gray hoodies many wore as they walked around the facility.

In one classroom, boys sketched images from National Geographic magazines, and hand-drawn flags of Central American countries such as Guatemala and Honduras made by the teenagers as art projects lined the facility's hallways.

The Obama administration is working to quickly transfer the children to relatives or sponsor families in the United States who must commit to bringing them to immigration hearings where they could face deportation, officials said.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Sandra Maler)

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Comments (2)
mkhunt wrote:
Coffee failure due to the mysterious spread of a plant disease3..there have been so many including the orange disaster..why now? china is trying to build a very big hotel just south of San Diego..what foreign and hostile countries are moving into Central America? Do you really feel Secure? Defund the DHS and stop this slide towards disaster. There is no way that hoards of people can cross the border un-noticed. the DHS has created a repressive and dangerous to the citizens shadow army-government while spookily spending vast amounts of money!!!

Jun 13, 2014 3:58pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Flifla23 wrote:
This is a security NIGHTMARE. And do you think his “discouragement” is going to stop any of these crooks from sending minors over this way? Then he is delusional! These people could give a rat’s behind what it does to us here in the US, what it does to their offspring, or anything else. They have been told that they will be let in carte blanche and given food, housing and freebies. The reason why they were sent at OUR expense to Arizona is because of our large already immigrant population- and citizens would feel outnumbered if they wanted to march on City Hall protesting this DISGUSTING offense of the American people. Every restaurant job, janitorial job, landscaping; residential housekeeping and construction jobs TAKEN by illegals. These are not jobs “Americans don’t want” nor are politicians allowing it to “gain votes” this is all a LIE. Stop buying this cr@p politicians and the media is telling us. It is all bull- total baloney. They are telling you this nonsense in hopes you won’t ask the REAL reason what it’s about- and that is the Trilateral Commission’s desire that we are a nation full of people dependent on handouts, with no pride or patriotism or knowledge of our American history and American LAWS. They want everyone out of work so they will do ANYTHING to get on the Welfare Handout- and will sign any document to give up their rights in order to just get a loaf of bread. We need to start MARCHING at our State Capitol. We NEED to start a march on Washington. We need to let our lawmakers know what we’re sick of this and won’t TAKE IT ANY MORE.

Jun 15, 2014 3:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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