Why Children Are Pouring Across the Border

Article subtitle: 
A 2008 law created a perverse incentive for families around the globe
Article author: 
Don Barnett
Article publisher: 
American Conservative
Article date: 
4 March 2022
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

The Department of Health and Human Services processed 122,000 “unaccompanied alien children” (UAC) in its shelters last fiscal year, an all-time record. The staggering number of young children trekking to our country is a humanitarian catastrophe. The blame rests squarely with the Biden administration.

By loosening border security and all but inviting migrants to come illegally, administration officials have ironically put the youngest, most vulnerable migrants in harm’s way. While the administration cloaks its actions in the language of compassion, there is nothing compassionate about policies that allow children to fall into the clutches of human traffickers and sexual predators.

Unaccompanied children, many as young as eight or nine years old, face horrific conditions on their journeys north. They are often thirsty and tired, hot during the day and cold at night. Above all, they are afraid. Over 550 people, including many children, died trying to cross the border in F.Y. 2021 alone. Often, their only guidance comes from "coyotes," unscrupulous human smugglers motivated by cash, who have been known to abandon children at the first sign of trouble....

When unaccompanied alien children reach the United States, Customs and Border Patrol officers typically place them in a holding facility for transfer to HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, the agency that runs UAC shelters. The Office of Refugee Resettlement eventually releases children to sponsors, but less than half go to a parent or legal guardian, and, according to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, only 80 percent are placed with a relative....

The UAC phenomenon didn’t arise spontaneously. For 15 years, across administrations of both parties, the U.S. government has incentivized parents to separate from their children and send them on the dangerous journey to the border.

Congress created the UAC classification in the Homeland Security Act of 2002. But it was the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) that caused child-smuggling at the U.S. border to surge. Intended to prevent human trafficking, the law instead encouraged it by allowing unaccompanied children arriving at the border from countries other than Mexico or Canada to stay in the United States. By contrast, children from Mexico who do not fear returning to Mexico can be and are sent back within 48 hours of arrival.

The 2008 law created a perverse incentive for families around the globe, particularly in Central America, where many UACs are born. Once a child reaches the border, under the TVPRA, there is a good chance the U.S. government will essentially complete the traffickers’ job, taking the child into the interior United States and reuniting him with his family members—or, at least, people who claimed to be his family members. As a result, the number of UACs crossing the border rose steadily in the years after 2008, with UAC crossings reaching record levels in both 2016 and 2019....


Biden Regime Resettles Over 146,000 Border Crossers Across U.S. in First Year, Breitbart, 4 March 2022.

Sanctuary State Oregon to Spend $15M in Taxpayer Dollars Helping Illegal Aliens Avoid Deportation, Breitbart, 4 March 2022.