Now when i was a practicing immigration attorney, i represented many such children. I thought that this would be a good time to explain the issue of unaccompanied alien children and the legal processes that surround them. My name is william kovach and i am a trained immigration lawyer. I’Ve often been disappointed in the way immigration issues are talked about in the media, although it’s, not always their fault, immigration law can be a very complex subject touching upon constitutional issues, as well as personal political points of view. My goal is to explain immigration law to you, concentrating on looking at judicial opinions and executive actions in order to explain how immigration law can have an impact on our community and on our country. I hope that you’ll join me as we try to make sense of immigration law and how it may affect the average person let’s start by defining what an unaccompanied alien child is or a uac. It is a person who is under 18, who has no immigration status and arrives at our border without a parent or guardian and these children they provide some problems. They present some problems for immigration officials, for example. They are subject to the very same removal proceedings as adults. There is no juvenile immigration system it’s. All one big system also it’s not appropriate for these children to go through expedited removal. Expedited removal is where immigration authorities may apprehend an individual within a hundred miles of the border and without going through the court proceedings, they can just ship the person back across the border or ship them back to their home country and it’s, not appropriate for unaccompanied children.
Because well, they’re children and you don’t want to be responsible for putting a child all on their own on the other side of the border. So we can’t use expedited removal for them and we had the special danger of human trafficking that these children are very vulnerable. To being brought to the united states for bad reasons, for sinister reasons, whether that’s for somebody’s sexual gratification or for illegal labor reasons, it’s a problem and it’s something that immigration authorities need to be aware of. So once a child has been apprehended by customs and border patrol or cbp it’s not appropriate that the child remain in cbp custody in cbp detention, facilities and that’s, because those detention facilities are just not designed for the needs of children. That’S not designed to provide for the education or the care of children, and so the law requires that the children be transferred to the custody of the office of refugee, resettlement or orr, which is part of the department of health and human services once apprehended cbp has The job to determine if this child is indeed a uac, an unaccompanied alien child, and whether or not this child is a victim of human trafficking, and once cbp has made that determination once they’ve decided, we do indeed have a uac here with us. We have cbp. Has i should say, 72 hours to transfer the custody of that child over to orr and orr is a better uh equipped agency to take care of the children.
They maintain more appropriate shelters to meet the needs of the children to provide for their care and education. Now let’s be clear: these places they’re no picnics they’re, not great places. Even the orr shelters are not great places to stay long term. They’Re meant to be short term facilities and that’s, because orr’s main job is to find foster care for these children to find a responsible adult in the united states. Who would be willing to care for a child and make sure that the child attends their immigration court proceedings now? In my experience for the most part, what i found is that when a uac, an unaccompanied child, comes to the united states most times they already have a relative in the united states. In fact, they usually come to the united states with some kind of paper or something on them. That indicates a telephone number or somebody to contact once they’ve been apprehended by the government. In fact, most times that relative in the united states is a parent that is usually a mother or a father has come to the united states. First set up their life here started earning money here. Something has happened back home that prompts the need to get the child out of the home country, and so the child comes to the united states in order to rejoin their mother or father and typically, what will happen? Urr will reach out to this relative, whether it’s, the parent or another relative, and they will contact them with the contact information that the child provides to.
Let them know your child’s here we have a child here who claims to belong to you or claims to be your relative, and they want to make sure. Are you able to take care of this child? Now there is a a process. There is a an application process to take custody of the child, but generally speaking at least before the trump administration, orr would not ask for the parents, immigration status and that’s that’s key, because when you have orr asking for immigration status well, then the parents may be More reluctant or the relatives may be more reluctant to come forward for fear that, by helping out or by taking custody of the child, they too may find themselves in removal proceedings. So who are these children who are arriving at our border well, beginning in around 2013? Is when the united states started to see this explosion of unaccompanied alien children being apprehended at the border and of the children who are being apprehended, at least since 2013? Roughly about two thirds of them are from the northern triangle? Region of central america, that’s guatemala, honduras and el salvador, and in my experience most of these children are being reunited with a parent who has come to the united states first, so the question arises: why would the parent risk having a child come to the united states? Unaccompanied, after all, the journey north is rather treacherous. I mean a parent or a relative has to hire a total stranger they’re called a coyote, and that coyote will then guide the child from say guatemala, through mexico, up through mexico, to the northern border and into the united states crossing the border with the united states Itself is dangerous, but in that northern region of mexico that area north right near the border, that area is dominated by the mexican cartels by these large illegal criminal organizations a lot of times.
These organizations are set up as drug runners, but they do a lot more than that they engage in kidnapping. They engage in murders, they’re very territorial, so this is a very dangerous journey and there’s always this danger of human trafficking, particularly with with the cartels that the child or anyone else who is coming north may be kidnapped by the cartels and then snuck across the border And sold essentially into slavery in the united states, so very dangerous conditions. Why, then, would you trust a total stranger to bring your child through this? Some may argue that the whole idea of trusting your child to a coyote, to bring them to the united states is nothing more than child abuse. Well, the real question here is what’s going on in these northern triangle countries in these three countries of central america. That is so bad where the conditions are so horrible that it convinces the parents to take that huge risk and that it would be a better course for the child to go through this process to go through this. This dangerous journey in order to come to the united states and well there’s, a very simple answer to that. The answer are gangs. The problem is that the governments of the northern triangle region, el salvador, honduras and guatemala, those governments just can’t control their gang problem. Sometimes the gangs even have more power than the government in a particular region. In fact, these gangs are very much territorial and it’s, almost like they’ve set up their own shadow government in their territory, where they’re collecting what they believe are taxes, or they will call it rent from business owners where they will engage in brutal assaults and intimidations.
I mean gangs routinely, engage in extortion and robbery and rape and murder in their specific territory and there’s even gang wars that break out between rival gangs over maybe the edges of the territory. The two main ganks by the way are ms 13 and the 18th street gangs, both of which have their roots, in los angeles and for the parents. The big danger comes from gang recruitment, that is the gangs. Once a child gets to be a certain age and it’s relatively young, it could be as young as 9 10 years old. The gangs will take an interest and the gangs will try to convince the child to become part of their operation, whether that’s a simple job. Like to be a lookout or to be somebody who carries illegal narcotics for a short period so that if they get caught, they don’t get in as much trouble as say an older gang member. But the gangs will recruit children. This young and the gangs will be very aggressive in their recruiting tactics. In fact, once a child has been recruited for or has been targeted for recruitment resistance to the recruitment efforts, that can mean death it’s very, very serious if you’ve been targeted for recruitment by the gangs very dangerous and that’s, why parents are willing to take that risk To put the child in the care of a total stranger, go through the dangerous journey and come to the united states, because even that journey is safer than remaining in the home country and being there at the whim and at the mercy of these very dangerous gangs.
So that’s, why we’re seeing this big surge in unaccompanied children coming to our border, which now raises another question? You may have seen that many of these children are being held in the cbp detention centers for much longer than 72 hours and well. If the law requires cbp to transfer these children into orr’s custody within 72 hours, why are we seeing this overcrowding of the detention facilities? The question is that this is a really big surge and you know don’t don’t. Let the politicians and the bias news. Media outlets – fool you. This search really is nothing new. This has been happening, as i said since at least 2013. before 2012, we would see less than 25 000 unaccompanied minors being apprehended on a yearly basis, but in 2013 that number jumped to 40 000 and then that number jumped to almost 70 000 in 2014 and While trump, he experienced something of a decline in the beginning of his first term, it still never went below 40 000 children a year and in fact, despite the fact that the trump administration adopted some of the most draconian immigration policies, specifically with respect to border security, The number of unaccompanied children coming to the border jumped to a record number of over 70 000 in 2019, so this surge it has been continuing and has even reached its peak under the trump administration. So one of the main lessons of the trump administration is despite harsh border policies.
Despite tighter security at the border, we still did not see a decrease in the amount of migrants flocking to the border. In fact, we saw an increase and we saw an increase, in particular in unaccompanied alien children. So the real question is: if we knew this surge was happening and it was happening. Consistency and the data from cbp shows this. This was a very consistent flow of unaccompanied children that was consistently high. So we have this happening under the trump administration and we know we have the legal requirement to transfer unaccompanied children as soon as possible over to orr. So why weren’t new shelters built before 2021? Well, the answer is obvious and that’s trump’s vanity project the law. He had to make sure that all available funding when it came to border security went to constructing his law, so they neglected the trump administration, ignored and neglected the issue. That’S. The real scandal is how the trump administration, knowing this was a problem, chose instead of providing for the shelters that were needed just invested in this vanity project. To claim, oh look. What i’m doing to keep people out your policies? Weren’T working people were coming anyway and you can’t just throw children out on their own uh on the other side of the border, what’s going to hap that’s inhumane. What is what’s going to happen to them? That’S only going to exacerbate the problem of human trafficking, so do be very clear: it was the trump administration’s policy of focusing on the wall instead of using the resources in a humanitarian purpose of creating more shelters that created the humanitarian crisis.
The dangerous humanitarian crisis that exists now and think about this i mean joe biden – has been in office now for about three months. Three months is just not enough time to build new shelters. He wouldn’t have had enough time. This is not on biden. This is on the trump administration, and the thing is during the trump administration, a sufficient number of shelters just were not built. So, despite the conservative rhetoric, harsh border control measures during the trump administration just were not a deterrent and the biggest number of unaccompanied alien children came under trump. Now. The good news is that for many of these children there are provisions of u.s law that can lead to them getting permanent residency and eventually citizenship, special immigrant juvenile status, for example. They could apply for asylum. There are also some special protections for victims of severe forms of human trafficking all available in u.s immigration laws. These are all possible avenues to help some many of these children – maybe not all, but a good number of them – i’m – not going to go over all these programs right now in this video, because that would be a very complex explanation. Instead, as things develop, i will be back to explain a little more of what’s going on. Thank you for watching, please remember to like and subscribe. If there are any topics you would like me to address in the future, please let me know in the comments below now i don’t like talking about this, but i am currently disabled because of complications following cancer surgery.
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