In response to a growing immigration crisis that has drawn intense scorn from Republicans in border states, the Obama administration plans to ramp up detention of Central America migrants trying to cross into the US, and speed up the deportation process once they've been caught. Many aren't even trying to be sneaky about it, instead turning themselves in and letting US immigration policy roll the dice to determine their future. According to The New York Times, the Department of Homeland Security is "rushing" to open up new detention centers capable of holding families with young children along the southwest border.
DHS also plans to increase the use of tracking devices like ankle bracelets to monitor migrants that have temporarily been released from custody. Illegal border crossings have swelled in recent months, and an alarming number of unaccompanied immigrant children have attempted the risky trek into the United States — a trend that has politicians on both sides of the aisle concerned.
The problem is getting worse with each passing week
Republicans like Senator Ted Cruz blame the influx on President Obama's immigration policies, which they characterize as confusing and overly relaxed. As The Los Angeles Times notes, there may be at least some truth to that argument; many migrants are attempting illegal entry after hearing false rumors that the US is offering "permisos," or entry permits that would grant them permission to temporarily remain in the country. Right-wing critics say the misunderstanding can be directly tied to Obama and a program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which in some cases allows immigrant children to delay deportation proceedings. But many others believe the surge is a direct result of children taking desperate steps to flee poor economic conditions and constant gang violence in countries like Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and others.
A lack of family-friendly detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley — which has been besieged by migrant activity — has forced authorities to release some people to family members within the US until their scheduled court appearance. The Times says this step has created its own confusion, which likely explains the heightened use of ankle bracelets and other monitoring tools. Immigration judges will also be "reassigned on an emergency basis to hear asylum petitions and other cases of migrants in detention" to speed up answers on who's eligible to stay here, according to the Times. The administration is expected to announce these new steps today, coinciding with Vice President Joe Biden's trip to Guatemala.