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Illegal children will more than likely be allowed to stay in US

By Rosa Duarte, Reporter, RDuarte@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 08 2014 04:05:09 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 08 2014 05:58:56 PM CDT

The fact that many immigrants are minors is posing a problem for authorities in the United States, experts said.

As President Obama asks Congress for billions of dollars to help with the immigration crisis, local experts said it's not enough and add the majority of children may end up staying in the country regardless.

According to United States immigration authorities, more than 50,000 unaccompanied children have been taken into custody after crossing the border illegally since October of last year and now, detention centers have reached their limit.

Kevin Santos, an immigration attorney in Allentown, said since they're children, border authorities have their hands tied.

“When you have an unaccompanied minor, they are considered a special class of immigrant. The government can't treat them as a regular adult. The normal procedures of either releasing them, handing them off or turning them back at the border really don't apply here,” he said.

According to Santos, each child will have to be detained, processed and interviewed.

“Nobody knows anything about them. Nobody knows if they have any relatives here, nobody knows any of their background stories,” said Santos.

Jose Campos, an immigration attorney in Bethlehem, added that unaccompanied children are eligible for special visas granting them special immigrant juvenile status.

“That allows for minors who show up at the border who have shown they've been abused, abandoned or neglected to be eligible for permission to stay here in the United States,” said Campos.

President Obama asked Congress on Tuesday for $3.7 billion to help speed up the processing and to go towards warehousing the thousands of youths but both Santos and Campos said it's not enough.

“Part of the problem is security at the border itself there is very little security as evidenced by the huge number of children coming across,” said Campos.

“I think it's the right request to make I just think that it should've been done a while ago it preparation for this,” Santos said.

In response to the growing concern regarding sanitation and living conditions in some of these detention centers, members of Congress were granted access to tour a center earlier Tuesday in Texas.

The president plans to discuss the crisis during a fund raising event on Wednesday in Texas and will also meet with Governor Rick Perry, but according to administration officials, he is not planning to visit the border.