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Support to US Communities Receiving Central America Child Immigrants


Child immigrants to the US southern border are primarily from the Northern Triangle of Central America -- Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The children, under current law, will be transferred to the Department of Homeland Security within 24 hours of detention by the US Border Patrol. The practice in place is to release the children to relatives in the US while their case for deportation goes through a judicial process which takes anywhere from 10 to 15 months.


It is uncertain what the process will be in the future with discussions now underway by US policy makers to streamline the deportation process. That apparently would take a significant amount of funding ($3.7 billion is being discussed as the amount the Obama administration needs to fix the immediate problem). I assume a good portion of that funding would be aimed at speeding up the judicial process to decrease time for a hearing and then paying their way back to Central America.


Putting aside politics and the emotions that the immigration debate evokes, there has to be thought given to how "receiving communities" in the US are going to deal with the children if Congress and the Administration cannot come to agreement or if there is no other option than to continue the current process of releasing the children to US based relatives. Given the expense that comes with increased youth gang crime (direct property loss, decreased economic growth, decreased property values, etc.), I assume policy makers will want to make sure the children are in school. Ideally, part of the $3.7 billion would go to support public schools which should be expected to see an increase in the number of these children attending. The option to prevent the children from attending school and thus be more of a target for local youth gangs is not a tenable approach.


The question of how to target assistance for US public school systems is not easy. One way of determining where assistance might be needed is by analyzing where Central American Northern Triangle residents currently are in the US. In "non-traditional" areas (places that have seen a relatively recent increase in residents from Northern Triangle countries) there would be less experience in dealing with an influx of Hispanic children. The attached table provides information on where these residents were located under the 2010 US Census. By comparing 2000 US Census data with this table, we could see where the most recent and more dramatic demographic changes have taken place.


This is a first step in trying to identify impact on US communities. Your ideas, comments, suggestions, etc. would be welcome. This could be an excellent "crowd sourcing" approach to analyze information and develop approaches that could help policy makers understand and address impacts on US communities

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