Unaccompanied Children from Central America: Foreign Policy Considerations [August 28, 2014]   [open pdf - 451KB]

"In recent months, U.S. policy makers have expressed concerns about a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) being apprehended at the U.S. border. More than 63,000 such children were apprehended over the first 10 months of the fiscal year--a 100% increase compared to same time period of FY2013. This unexpected surge of children has strained U.S. government resources and created a complex crisis with humanitarian implications for the United States and the international community. Although the flow of unaccompanied minors appears to have slowed since July, experts warn it may accelerate again after the summer heat passes. [...] Congress has taken some initial steps to respond to the situation on the border, with Members holding numerous hearings, traveling to the region, and introducing legislation. Bills were introduced in both houses of Congress in response to the President's supplemental appropriations request. [...] As Congress continues to debate legislative options to address the foreign policy dimensions of the situation, there are a variety of interrelated issues that it might take into consideration. These include Central American governments' limited capacities to receive and reintegrate repatriated children, and their inability and/or unwillingness to address the pervasive insecurity and lack of socioeconomic opportunities in their countries that cause many children to leave. Other issues Congress might consider include the extent to which the Mexican government is capable of limiting the transmigration of Central Americans through its territory and how other international actors are responding to the spike in apprehensions of unaccompanied children."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R43702
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