The latest wave of illegal immigration hitting Texas is coming from teens and children. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the south Texas border has tripled in the last five years, and now averages about 120 per day. The vast majority of these youngsters are coming not from Mexico, but from violence-riddled countries in Central America. "Even though illegal crossings are down along other parts of the border with Mexico, they're surging in south Texas, and a big part of the increase is Central America," says Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a D.C.-based think tank that supports tighter controls on immigration.
Most of these youth illegally crossing the Texas border are teenagers, although some can be as young as 5 or 6. Many are smuggled in by "coyotes" who are paid thousands of dollars by the families of the youngsters. Some are sent here by families in other countries, while others are brought across in order to rejoin family members who are already in the U.S. illegally. Krikorian says our government isn't doing enough to stop that. "This administration's policy is basically helping illegal immigrants who are smuggling their children across the border, by delivering them to the illegal immigrant families in the United States," he tells KTRH. "They (the children) need to be reunited with their parents, as they and their parents are repatriated to their home countries."
Governor Rick Perry has urged the Obama Administration to address this wave of young illegals, calling it a "humanitarian crisis" in a 2012 letter to the White House. That crisis comes as many of these youngsters end up being placed with child welfare agencies or in makeshift shelters while their immigration status is decided and their family located. "You're seeing both a big demand put on law enforcement, and a big demand put on the Health and Human Services agency that has to house and deal with these young people until they can deliver them to the parents," says Krikorian.