Fleeing violence, abuse, and impoverished conditions, desperate families from Central America are making their way into the United States, looking for a new life. If minors arrive to the U.S. alone, they may seek asylum. If parents with children are caught entering the U.S. illegally, they are separated from their children and are prosecuted through the immigration courts. The children who are separated are forced to live with a sponsor while they await their parents’ judgment. In the process, the children can be kept in cages, as shown by recent footage from the HHS. A Brownsville, Texas Wal-Mart turned detention center shows just how tragic U.S. immigration policy has become.
Suspiciously though, the footage released by HHS only shows boys ages 10 and up – but no footage of girls, babies, or toddlers. What is happening to all the girls? Are they even making it across the border? Are they being kidnapped and trafficked before they get to the U.S.? Perhaps many girls are making it to the U.S. but the government is afraid to show the public the pictures of girls and toddlers being kept in cages? Perhaps the footage of little girls in captivity is too disturbing to release to the public. In either case, there is a stunning lack of girls in the unaccompanied alien children program and no footage of girls in captivity.
According to Health and Human Services, there are 11,786 minors currently in the unaccompanied alien children program, but only 3,280 of them are female, a disproportionate number. The shocking lack of girls among immigrant refugees points to the horrifying reality: Females are likely being raped, murdered, kidnapped, and trafficked before they reach the U.S. border. Are gangs, such as MS-13, taking advantage of refugees just before they get to the U.S.?
The U.S., under President Donald Trump, can fix the abuses of the U.S. immigration system. President Trump has signed an executive order to end the family separation policy. These problems can be solved, but what about the humanitarian crisis that is taking place on the other side of the border, where gangs and sex traffickers lurk? How will the U.S. solve this crisis of gangs taking advantage of girls before they can even reach our border? How will the U.S. combat the networks that these gangs have within our borders?
Dangers on both sides of the border
Many girls could be disappearing once they are inside the U.S. too. Many of the sponsors, taking care of immigrant children, are in the U.S. illegally. They do not always report back to the HHS. In this way, these children fall through the cracks of the immigration system. Many of these sponsors are family members, but many could be working with child traffickers and crime networks. Desperate sponsors may look for criminal ways to provide income and the children could be abused as a result. Sponsors can only be vetted to a certain degree and can easily flee from communications with the government. Many of the girls that seem to be missing from the immigration pool could make up the roughly 1,500 immigrant children who went unaccounted for in 2017.
There are reports of abuse at the U.S. border, by border patrol agents, too. A TFTP report revealed that a police officer was arrested for abusing a little girl and threatening her undocumented mother with deportation if she spoke up.
The “illegal immigrants” who come to the U.S. seeking a better life are, more importantly, people. This should not be a partisan issue. No longer can U.S. citizens dehumanize innocent refugees and pretend this broken immigration system is not their problem, no matter what their politics are. A strong, moral United States must treat the children humanely and find ways to keep families together, while defending against the evils of human trafficking and abuse that is rife on either side of the border.
Read Migrants.news for more details on this important issue.