A 2008 law that dictates how the federal government handles immigrant children might be changed soon, as President Barack Obama looks to cease the flood of children caught trying to cross the border.
Currently, the law states that unaccompanied minors who are caught by US Border Patrol agents must be handed over to the department of Health and Human services, which then handles their care and finds them safe housing. Those services also involve advising them on their legal rights. Obama is now looking to Congress to change the law that would allow Border Patrol agents to make a deportation decision themselves, and quickly deport children back to their home country.
On Monday, President Obama sent a letter to Congress requesting that his administration have the ‘legal authorities’ to quicken deportation and increase penalties for those caught smuggling children. Obama also stated that he would need financial assistance, which he expected to be more than $2 billion.
Obama wrote, “This surge of resources will mean that cases are proceeded fairly and as quickly as possible, ensuring the protection of asylum seekers and refugees while enabling the prompt removal of individuals who do not qualify for asylum or other forms of relief from removal.”
Many agree that current immigration issues are a large problem for the United States. At a recent panel, General David Petraeus, chairman of the KKR Global Institute and former CIA director, noted, “The United States does face challenges, we do have to get immigration reform,” of the importance of addressing immigration laws. Vice President Biden has met with leaders in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras—the countries where the majority of illegal minors are coming form—to discuss ways from them leaving those countries.
Officials have also stated that changes are necessary to update a law that was created when statistics of children crossing the border were much lower. The change is part of a broad effort by Obama and his administration to get a handle on the over 50,000 illegal and unaccompanied minors that have been founding crossing the border within the last six months alone.