The crisis of unaccompanied minors (UACs) and family units being apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol is showing signs of going from a tsunami to a steady and more manageable flow, providing cause for cautious optimism and relief for communities inundated by unaccompanied minors and the horrific crimes that have recently occurred.
Recent data released by the Border Patrol shows what may be construed as a last ditch effort by UACs to cross the border and be placed in more than a hundred communities in the United States by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
While the Border Patrol UAC apprehensions from December to February in FY 2017 were up by 595 from the previous year, 1,922 were apprehended in February (the first full month after the inauguration), the lowest February apprehension number in five years. (See Table 1.)
Table 1. Unaccompanied Children Apprehended by the Border Patrol
October through January saw the highest influx ever in that time frame, perhaps in anticipation of the results of the presidential election. Then, as the post-inauguration reality set in, the numbers plummeted not only for UACs, but for family units as well.
Table 2. Family Units Apprehended by the Border Patrol
This comes as a tenuous relief to communities such as Brentwood and Hempstead, N.Y., Houston, Texas, and Rockville, Md., to name a few, that have been plagued by violent crimes committed by UACs. It was also encouraging to see that Adolfo Sanchez-Reyes, a 43-year-old from Guatemala and the father of Rockville High School rape suspect Henry Sanchez-Milian was apprehended by ICE for being in the country illegally.
In order to further stem the tide of criminal UACs like Sanchez-Milian and his alleged accomplice, Salvadoran Jose Montano, who are haphazardly placed throughout the United States, often with sponsors themselves in the country illegally, pressure needs to be put on the sponsors who perpetuate the flouting of immigration policy. This is low-hanging fruit that needs to be exploited to stabilize illegal immigration in the United States.
Brentwood High School in New York, a community hit especially hard by MS-13 violence in recent months, has more than 5,000 students and continues to have to accept more than 25 UACs per week that need to be placed in its classes. One official said he is legitimately concerned if the trend continues the fire marshal could shut the school down.
Since these children rarely reach the definition of refugees or trafficked victims, the justification for placement under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) needs to be re-examined. We are and should continue to be a compassionate country, but at what price when it comes to the alleged rape of a 14-year-old girl in a Maryland high school bathroom? Then there are five dead teenagers from Brentwood High School, which is bursting at the seams, that had to be buried in September because of MS-13.
Hopefully, we are turning a corner for the safety of both the UACs, who are victims themselves, and the American communities they are placed in.