Special to WorldTribune.com
The Obama administration announced a program late last week that would provide attorneys for the young illegal immigrant children crossing in waves over the U.S.-Mexico border, saying they want to make sure the unaccompanied minors are getting fair legal representation.
The joint project between the Justice Department and AmeriCorps, the government’s national service organization, aims to recruit 100 lawyers and paralegals to shepherd the children through the immigration system, making sure they are treated properly and can make claims for legal status or protection if they are eligible. “We’re taking a historic step to strengthen our justice system and protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement announcing the plan. …
Known as unaccompanied alien children, they are generally from Central America, are escaping poverty, abuse or dangerous gangs back home, and make the harrowing trek through Mexico and across the U.S. border. … As the numbers have spiked in recent weeks and border officials have struggled to keep up with the flow, Obama administration officials have declared it an “urgent humanitarian situation” and have tried to find ways to make the children’s lives easier once they get into the U.S. …
The spike in children crossing the border without their parents has shaken the immigration debate. Some analysts say it’s proof that the southwestern border isn’t secure — and blame the influx on mixed messages from the Obama administration.
In a draft memo dated May 30, Border Patrol Deputy Chief Ronald D. Vitiello warned that the all-hands-on-deck effort to manage the flow of children is distracting the Homeland Security Department from other critical parts of its mission, including going after gunrunners, drug smugglers and adult illegal immigrants. … “If the U.S. government fails to deliver adequate consequences to deter aliens from attempting to illegally enter the U.S., the result will be an even greater increase in the rate of recidivism and first-time illicit entries,” he wrote in the memo, which was viewed by The Washington Times.
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