Border Patrol Agents Dealt with More Children Under Pres. Bush

Publication date: 
January 2019
Border Patrol Agents Dealt with More Children Under Pres. Bush

The deaths of two children in custody in recent weeks have led to a justifiable focus on the numbers of children who enter Border Patrol custody every year. The Department of Homeland Security told Congress this week that “more children and families are being apprehended between the ports of entry than ever before.” While the large numbers of children are certainly alarming, it is incorrect that it is the largest number ever. President Bush’s administration apprehended more children with far fewer resources.

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From the standpoint of the Trump administration, Central American children are much more difficult to deal with for several reasons. If deported, they need to be flown back to Central America, which takes more time and resources than simply putting children back in Mexico. Unaccompanied children from Mexico are afforded fewer protections and can be deported without a process to protect them, while Central American unaccompanied minors cannot are subject to procedures intended to make sure that, if they were trafficked, fled persecution, or were abandoned, they receive protection in America.

From a security perspective, however, the shift to a majority child-family flow is a blessing because children and families overwhelmingly turn themselves in to Border Patrol rather than attempt to sneak into the country. According to a DHS-commissioned report last year, nearly all families and children turn themselves in rather than seek to evade detection. This allows the U.S. government the opportunity to check them for diseases and conduct background checks.  

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