The Humanitarian Crisis at the Border

We’re living through two types of pandemics right now. One of them caused a health crisis, and the second caused a humanitarian crisis. The number of unaccompanied children making their way to the border has eerily increased over the last few months. According to the Department of Homeland Security, more than 9,000 children were detained at the border in February of 2021. 


This wave of children crossing the border is not new. It was something we saw under the Trump Administration. The difference here will be how the Biden-Harris administration will handle this issue. So far, Biden has made a lot of promises towards immigration reform. Some have been met with some level of success, while others haven’t. The reinstatement of DACA is a step in the right direction, but still, there is no clear pathway to citizenship for Dreamers being presented. The next move that Biden-Harris makes will ultimately set the stage for the direction they will tackle immigration reform with. 


However, 2020 and now 2021 have proven to be a constant uphill battle for everyone dealing with problems. People are more focused on economic relief and the handling of the Coronavirus pandemic. Essentially, it’s every man for himself right now. According to the latest Gallup poll, only 3% of the country deemed immigration one of the top issues and priorities despite the rise in unaccompanied minors at the border. 


In 2014, this very same problem was of concern to the country. The Obama administration responded by creating the Central American Minors Program that served as a gateway for Central American children to come if they had a parent with legal status to take care of them. That program ended under the Trump administration.


Now, the Biden administration has a chance to redirect this country's immigration policy to alter the changes that came about under the Trump Administration. Biden and Harris were deeply criticized and condemned for reopening detention centers like the Homestead detention center in Florida to house immigrant children. These centers were used under the Trump and Obama administration to detain children in very harsh and inadequate conditions. It seems that Biden and Harris heard the critiques and are scrambling to fix this issue and not go back to trump era immigration ways. 


In a new program run by nonprofit organizations, some families that arrive in the United States will be held in hotels. While this does not solve the problem and does not address the core issue as to why so many unaccompanied minors are crossing the border, it is a step in the right direction in that American immigration policy steps away from an incarcerated framework. The thing that many people disregard when discussing immigration is that immigrants are people too. Immigrants migrate in search of a better life. No one should not have the “right” to not want to live in fear for their lives, especially children. 

The Biden administration still has a lot of work to do, but they are stepping towards the right direction in working with nonprofits to be able to humanely and compassionately solve this issue.