It is estimated that more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed the US-Mexico border in the last several months, overwhelming the border agents and immigration courts seeking to stem the tide, as well as communities and legal resources seeking to help them. Most of these children are fleeing severe poverty, and many are fleeing gang and drug violence. Many of these children are also coming to reunite with their parents, immigrants living without legal status in the US. ABC News features a story of one young woman from Guatemala, 19-year old Washington, D.C. resident Cindy Monge, who made the journey herself when she was only 11 years old. Like many of the children coming now, Cindy had never met her father and rarely saw her mother when she left home in 2006 to reunite with her family.
The New York Times reports that a “vast majority” of the children coming to the US now are coming, at least in part, to reunite with their families. According to the article, Government officials are aware that many of the sponsors are also living illegally in the US. Since there is no requirement that a sponsor taking in a child be lawfully present in the US, many of these parents have quickly reclaimed their children. According to the article, those children who are not claimed remain in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is frantically scouring the country looking for suitable shelters to house the children as they process asylum claims and go through removal proceedings.