Mayors from across the United States have renewed their calls for immigration policy to be urgently implemented in the wake of the massive increase in the amount of unaccompanied immigrant minors illegally crossing the border into the country. The United States Conference of Mayors’ Immigration Reform Task Force met in Dallas on Sunday to count the cost of the humanitarian crisis in Texas and other border states and to address the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the US.
“Clearly when kids are involved it becomes much more emotional,” Arlington mayor Robert Cluck says. “It adds credence to the fact that we need to do something urgently, not punishment but help. These people are in some way being oppressed in other countries and are fleeing here asking for help. It’s a tragedy.”
Cluck added that in his view the situation was a problem for everyone, not just the federal government, and that people need to understand that the immigrants are human beings just like everyone else. The amount of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the United States has risen by 92% during the last fiscal year, according to the US Customs and Border Patrol commissioner, R Gil Kerlikowske.
The Department of Health and Human Services normally serves between 7,000 and 8,000 unaccompanied minors per year; however, this number is expected to increase to 60,000 during this fiscal year, with the great majority being teenage boys from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.