Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA), along with a delegation of Members of Congress, visited the Southwest border in Texas last week. The trip included visits to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection station in McAllen, Texas and a Department of Health and Human Services facility where unaccompanied children are being transferred and housed in Lackland, Texas. The delegation also met with local advocates who are assisting in the minors’ crisis.
“Today, I saw firsthand the humanitarian crisis at our Southwest border and heard directly from law enforcement on the front lines. Seeing the legal process on the ground and hearing the heart-wrenching stories of the children makes it clear – Congress must maintain the due process protections for unaccompanied children in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act,” said Rep. Chu. “I urge swift Congressional action to approve the supplemental spending necessary to address the desperate situation at the border while leaving legal protections intact.”
Since 2011, the number of unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the Southwest border has drastically increased. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) predicts that an estimated 90,000 unaccompanied children will attempt to enter the country by the end of this year. Many of the children attempting to cross into the U.S. are fleeing extremely violent environments in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – collectively known as the Northern Triangle of Central America. Drug cartel and gang-related activity are the main cause for most of the violence occurring in the region. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as many as 58 percent of the minors could qualify for international protection.