By JULIA PRESTON APRIL 10, 2014
HIDALGO, Tex. — Border Patrol agents in olive uniforms stood in broad daylight on the banks of the Rio Grande, while on the Mexican side smugglers pulled up in vans and unloaded illegal migrants.
The agents were clearly visible on that recent afternoon, but the migrants were undeterred. Mainly women and children, 45 in all, they crossed the narrow river on the smugglers’ rafts, scrambled up the bluff and turned themselves in, signaling a growing challenge for the immigration authorities.
I know you are supposed to notice differences between men and women and children, and just call them all Undocumented Workers, but when the illegal aliens were mostly men decades ago, they didn't reproduce anchor babies as much. Women illegal aliens are anchor baby generating machines. And then there are their already-born kids who are tax sinks.
After six years of steep declines across the Southwest, illegal crossings have soared in South Texas while remaining low elsewhere. The Border Patrol made more than 90,700 apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley in the past six months, a 69 percent increase over last year.
The migrants are no longer primarily Mexican laborers. Instead they are Central Americans, including many families with small children and youngsters without their parents, who risk a danger-filled journey across Mexico. Driven out by deepening poverty
Is there evidence that poverty is deepening in Central America? Are they fleeing hunger?
Back to the NYT:
but also by rampant gang violence
the solution to Central American gang violence is clearly to import Central American lads into the U.S.
, increasing numbers of migrants caught here seek asylum, setting off lengthy legal procedures to determine whether they qualify.
The new migrant flow, largely from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, is straining resources and confounding Obama administration security strategies that work effectively in other regions. It is further complicating President Obama’s uphill push on immigration, fueling Republican arguments for more border security before any overhaul.
With detention facilities, asylum offices and immigration courts overwhelmed, enough migrants have been released temporarily in the United States that back home in Central America people have heard that those who make it to American soil have a good chance of staying.
“Word has gotten out that we’re giving people permission and walking them out the door,” said Chris Cabrera, a Border Patrol agent who is vice president of the local of the National Border Patrol Council, the agents’ union. “So they’re coming across in droves.”
In Mexican border cities like Reynosa, just across the river, migrants have become easy prey for Mexican drug cartels that have seized control of the human smuggling business, heightening perils for illegal crossers and security risks for the United States.
At the Rio Grande that afternoon, the smugglers calculatedly sent the migrants across at a point where the water is too shallow for Border Patrol boats that might have turned them back safely at the midriver boundary between the United States and Mexico.
A Border Patrol chief, Raul Ortiz, watched in frustration from a helicopter overhead. “Somebody probably told them they’re going to get released,” he said.
As agents booked them, the migrants waited quietly: a Guatemalan mother carrying a toddler with a baby bottle, another with an infant wrapped in blankets.
Undocumented workers each! Soon they'll be productive members of the work force.
A 9-year-old girl said she was traveling by herself, hoping to rejoin her mother and two brothers in Louisiana. But she did not know where in Louisiana they were. After a two-week journey from Honduras, her only connection to them was one telephone number on a scrap of paper.
A Honduran woman said the group had followed the instructions of the Mexican smugglers. “They just told us to cross and start walking,” she said.
But whereas Mexicans can be swiftly returned by the Border Patrol, migrants from noncontiguous countries must be formally deported and flown home by other agencies. Even though federal flights are leaving South Texas every day, Central Americans are often detained longer.
Women with children are detained separately. But because the nearest facility for “family units” is in Pennsylvania, families apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley are likely to be released while their cases proceed, a senior deportations official said.
Minors without parents are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services, which holds them in shelters that provide medical care and schooling and tries to send them to relatives in the United States. The authorities here are expecting 35,000 unaccompanied minors this year, triple the number two years ago.
Under asylum law, border agents are required to ask migrants if they are afraid of returning to their countries. If the answer is yes, migrants must be detained until an immigration officer interviews them to determine if the fear is credible. If the officer concludes it is, the migrant can petition for asylum. An immigration judge will decide whether there is a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or “membership in a particular social group.”
Immigration officials said they had set the bar intentionally low for the initial “credible fear” test, to avoid turning away a foreigner in danger. In 2013, 85 percent of fear claims were found to be credible, according to federal figures.
As more Central Americans have come, fear claims have spiked, more than doubling in 2013 to 36,026 from 13,931 in 2012.
The chances have not improved much to win asylum in the end, however. In 2012, immigration courts approved 34 percent of asylum petitions from migrants facing deportation — 2,888 cases nationwide. Many Central Americans say they are fleeing extortion or forced recruitment by criminal gangs. But immigration courts have rarely recognized those threats as grounds for asylum.
Yet because of immense backlogs in the courts — with the average wait for a hearing currently at about 19 months — claiming fear of return has allowed some Central Americans to prolong their time in the United States.
At the big immigration detention center at Port Isabel, which serves much of the Rio Grande Valley, half of about 1,100 detainees at any given time are asylum seekers, officials said. With the asylum system already stretched, the nearest officers are in Houston, doing interviews by video conference. In 2013, the closest immigration court, in Harlingen, was swamped with new cases, becoming even more backlogged.
Detention beds fill up, and migrants deemed to present no security risk are released under supervision, officials said, with their next court hearing often more than a year away.
Bye-bye! Granted, it would be even nicer to have an Uncle Ruslan married to the daughter of a CIA deep stater to pull strings for you, but it's still pretty easy to get Lost in America and have an anchor baby or three before anybody finds you.