The Obama administration has released more than 128,000 unaccompanied minors into the United States over a span of less than three years, according to the Office of Refuge Resettlement (ORR).
During Obama’s second term in office the southwest border has experienced a substantial influx of unaccompanied minors and families from Central America illegally entering the United States. Many of the undocumented entrants have been released into the United States and allowed to remain, ostensibly to await immigration hearings.
Unaccompanied minors, in particular, are granted special treatment and protections. Once apprehended by immigration officials, unaccompanied minors are transferred into the care of the Department of Health and Human Services’ ORR.
ORR cares for the minors until they can be placed with family member “sponsors” in the United States. Often those sponsors are in the United States illegally themselves.
From Fiscal Year 2014 (October 2013 to September 2014) through August 2016, ORR has placed 128,299 unaccompanied minors in states throughout the country, including 53,515 unaccompanied minors placed in FY 2014, 27,840 unaccompanied minors placed in FY 2015, and 46,944 unaccompanied minors placed during the first 11 months of FY 2016.
Every single state has received minors, including Hawaii and Alaska. The top receiving states have been Texas (16,618), California (16,151), Florida (13,102), New York (13,032), Virginia (8,951), Maryland (9,124), New Jersey (6,515), Georgia (4,665), and North Carolina (4,257).
The northern migration of unaccompanied minors to the U.S. broke records in FY 2014 when Border Patrol apprehended more than 68,540 unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border. The influx subsided somewhat in FY 2015 when 39,970 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the border. This fiscal year the migration levels are similar to those seen in FY 2014, with 54,052 unaccompanied minors apprehended during the first 11 months of this fiscal year.
Immigration hawks have argued that releasing the unaccompanied minors in the United States only serves to incentivize the migration northward and that the influx strains local resources, schools and health care systems in particular. They further point to the Obama Administration’s executive amnesty programs and lax enforcement of immigration law as a further enticement.
Immigration activists meanwhile argue that the influx has been due to so-called “push factors” like violence and poverty in the migrants’ home countries and say that the migrants should be granted asylum in the United States.
Earlier this year the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and The National Interest reported that 96.4 percent of the unaccompanied minors apprehended illegally crossing the border from FY 2014 through the first several months of FY 2016 remained in the United States.