Due in part to civil unrest in Central America, thousands of unaccompanied children are trying to cross the U.S. border, sparking renewed debate on the issue of immigration reform.
Current facilities at the border are ill-equipped to handle the surge of children. And many of the children find danger and are exploited while making the long trek. Most of those being apprehended are reported to be between 14 to 17 years age.
Appearing on the CBS talk program “Face the Nation” Sunday, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said the U.S. has a tough choice, but the only choice is to send the children back.
“If you don’t, you incentivize people throughout that part of the world to keep sending their children here,” Graham said. “About a third of the little girls are raped in the process of getting here. It’s a humanitarian problem, but it is apart from immigration reform.”
Most of the surge of illegal immigrants are coming from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Graham said the leaders of these nations must be made to understand that they risk losing support from the U.S. if they do not keep their children within their respective borders.
“This is a specific problem created by the impression that if you can get to America, you can stay,” Graham said. “We’ve got to turn that impression around, send these children back to their homeland, and tell the countries in question that if you don’t keep them and take care of them, we are going to cut all aid off.”
President Obama is asking Congress to change immigration law and make it easier to send the children home. “”The journey is unbelievably dangerous for these kids,” Obama said last week. “The children who are fortunate enough to survive it will be taken care of while they go through the legal process, but in most cases that process will lead to them being sent back home.”