Updated Central America Children Immigration Presentation
August 10, 2014
See an updated presentation of the Central America Children Immigrants Issue with information on the following:
Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) Origin & Destination Communities - A map of origin communities in Northern Triangle and US communities to which they are being sent is included in this update. These children are the ones going to sponsors (family members or designated adult) within the US (January - July 2014) by state. They are under 18 years old and should be enrolled in local schools in the states where they are being sent. I am now mapping the concentration of Northern Triangle populations in each of the major destination states to identify the communities that already have a concentration of these residents. These specific communities will be the likely destination of children sent to sponsors. If we could actually get destination information from the Department of Homeland Security that would make the mapping process much easier -- it would also allow specific school districts to start preparing for these children attending school in their communities.
Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) Processing - I include several slides reviewing the history of the UAC immigration issue (source is a couple of recent Congressional Research Service publications). These slides show immigration levels over time and the sharp spike in 2014. They also provide a flow chart of the review process with a breakdown of actions by each entity involved. By going through the flow chart, one can see where the Administration is trying to intervene in the processing to speed adjudication of the UAC cases. However, without a change in the current law it still appears that adjudicating these cases and deporting the children will be a lengthy process. There is also a move by some to change the law to allow rapid deportation (such as is the case for children apprehended entering the US illegally from Mexico and Canada -- they are generally deported within 48 hours).
Summary of Evolving USG Response - There are several slides laying out various responses by the Executive and Legislative branches to this issue. There are summaries of White House press releases in June and August (one can see the evolving nature of the response as the issue seems to become more political). Both the Senate and House bills are summarized. The House bill was enacted but the Senate bill was not. I assume these documents reflect the position of the different political perspectives and they appear to becoming more entrenched as the debate continues. I didn't include the latest news of funding transfers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency which the Administration (FEMA) ordered this week into cover budget shortfalls in Customs and Border Patrol DHS/CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS/ICE) due to the UAC immigration crisis.
Potential Responses - Regarding responses, two approaches, one addressing the issue in Central America and the other focused on creating incentives for undocument (1) mitigating the problems that cause out migration and (2) creating incentives for US Northern Triangle residents to return to their country of origin, I included a couple of slides. A new slide outlines a general concept of creating an international version of a domestic program like the Jobs for American Graduates (JAG), a bi-partisan NGO that supports programs aimed at increasing high school graduation rates and employment for at risk youth. JAG provides job skills training, at-risk youth mentoring, and youth employment (basically job placement) with major private sector entities. The groups has a board comprised of Republican and Democratic governors and is championed as a success both the right and left. Very interesting work is being done and their could be the potential to create an international version of JAG. The next step would be a concept paper for this type of approach. A slide on the Guest Worker Program proposal I discussed before is included and I am working on a "check off" approach that could be used as the funding mechanism. Both of these approaches, JAG and Guest Worker Housing, are going to be separate presentations -- it gets to complicated to include in a general discussion but for the overall presentation I provide a very brief overview.
An immediate issue I want to highlight to policy makers is the potential impact on US schools systems as the UAC begin entering local school districts; for a variety of reasons, we want these children to be in school if they are in our communities but we need to anticipate and prepare. With the mapping exercise I am doing identifying where the UAC are being sent to sponsors, I believe we can estimate impact and start a discussion on how to mitigate that impact. Goal would be to avoid surprises and anti-immigrant backlash. We would also want to make sure these children are in school rather than in the streets. On a personal level, I am asking for a meeting with my Board of Education member in Fairfax County VA to go over the potential impact in our school system in terms of a need for additional funding for our schools. My initial estimate of increased costs in Fairfax is in the range of $25 to $30 million. Lack of preparation or planning could result in the "tragedy of the commons" issue I discussed in my original presentation.