The surge of illegal immigrant minors rushing over the Rio Grande threatens to overwhelm the Texas Border Patrol, and new figures show the unexpected development will cost U.S. taxpayers more than $2 billion this year, 1200 WOAI news reports.
More than 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children are arriving in the U.S. each week, according to figures released by the Department of Homeland Security, and some 60,000 are expected to arrive in the U.S. this year. That is up ten times just since 2011.
U.S. Rep Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), who represents a large portion of the border where the waves of unaccompanied children are arriving, says the situation is out of control.
"The Border Patrol is telling me, we need diapers, we need baby seats, so we can transfer them," he said.
Some of the unaccompanied children are as young as three years old. More than 1,000 have been sent to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, and others are being sent to other locations far from the border because the flood has left Border Patrol housing facilities packed.
Cuellar says the flood of unaccompanied minors is costing taxpayers $252 per day per child.
"We are playing defense on the one yard line," Cuellar told 1200 WOAI's Michael Board.
U.S. Rep John Carter (R-Round Rock) said Obama Administration policies are to blame, saying federal talk about 'amnesty' and 'a path to citizenship' for young illegal immigrants has led to 'thousands of children' being smuggled into the U.S.' The issue is threatening to torpedo any hope of immigration reform of any sort being approved in Congress this year.
Many of the young illegal immigrants are smuggled into the U.S. from Central America. Honduras and Guatemala are among the worst governed countries in the world, with skyrocketing inflation, a brutal crime rate, and gangs running many cities. The rate of violence in Honduras is the worst in the world, with the streets of Honduras more dangerous than Afghanistan or even Syria.
Cuellar says the key to dealing with this flood of young illegal immigrants is to work with Mexico to help that nation shore up its southern border. Mexico, which has a well functioning economy and is emerging as a Latin American economic powerhouse, is now suffering an in migration of illegal immigrants for the first time.
"If we are going to be smart neighbors, I think we need to engage Mexico a lot more than we're doing," he said.
Many of the young illegals report horrific abuse at the hands of immigrant smugglers, including being raped, being physically assaulted, and being force to perform slave labor to 'pay off' the costs of their transportation. Hiring a smuggler to take a 13 year old from Honduras to the United States is said to cost $9,000, or far more than the average Honduran family makes in a year.
Analysts say some illegals are actively 'gaming' the system, being given false hope by smugglers of some sort of blanket amnesty for children if they can make it into the U.S. Some children are told, falsely, that after that 'amnesty' is granted, they will be able to bring their families into the U.S. as well.
One young Honduran told Reuters that she didn't think that entering the United States was illegal.
"Everybody in my home town was doing it," she said.