Imagine running a high-security day care at a Costco, and you have a pretty good idea of the scenario unfolding along the Arizona border.Send them to Washington DC, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston. Don't bother to send any to Los Angeles; no one would notice.
During the first media tour Wednesday of the U.S. Border Patrol processing facility, at least 100 children were doing what children normally do: playing basketball with border agents, watching World Cup soccer, resting on mats with Mylar blankets, talking in groups. But mainly waiting.
For what? It’s unclear. The Border Patrol has set up 40 telephones at the giant air-conditioned warehouse in order to contact the children’s relatives, but the unaccompanied minors who spilled over the border in the past year weren’t lost.
They came to stay, but officials stressed Wednesday that the Nogales processing center is only temporary. From there, children are sent to private shelters or temporary housing at military bases in California, Oklahoma and Texas, but even those facilities are filling up.
At least 90,000 children, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, will be caught this year, and more than 140,000 will be apprehended in 2015, according to an internal U.S. Customs and Border Protection memo.
President Obama has called the influx an “urgent humanitarian situation,” but the government was forced to halt plans to relocate some of the border crossers to Maryland and Virginia after those plans met with local resistance.
“We have instances where CBP shackled 13- and 14-year-olds, infants became sick while held in cells maintained at freezing temperatures, and many children were held in CBP custody beyond the legal 72-hour period, without food or blankets,” said Erika Pinheiro, directing attorney for community education programs at the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project.Never let a good crisis go to waste. And if necessary, create a crisis.