immigration

Courtesy Jorge Lerma

As Jorge Lerma approached the Mexican border from the U.S. side, he felt like he was hooked to a bungee cord, ready to leap into the unknown.

Jorge had lived in the U.S. for 16 years, attended high school and college in California, but his status here as an undocumented immigrant thwarted his dreams to be an engineer. So he decided to move back to Mexico.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Jorge Lerma sorts through his neckties. Dozens are draped across the couch; others get tossed into the give-away pile. 

Jorge rents a tiny room at this house in Bellevue, Washington. The landlord pops in to check out possible bargains and buys a flat-screen TV and a light-weight tripod. The discard pile shrinks, but on top remains a crisp American flag that Jorge used to hang in his room.

Governor Rick Perry has decided to send the National Guard to Texas’s southern border with Mexico to deter criminals he and other Republican leaders say are exploiting children and families entering the U.S. illegally.

The Texas Army National Guard is gearing up to send up to one thousand troops over the next month to support the state’s existing law enforcement surge, amid an influx of Central Americans to the region.

Close to 60,000 children have crossed illegally into the U.S. since last October. They've sparked a crisis. But is it a humanitarian crisis or a public health one?

The children carry "swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus, and tuberculosis," and can spread the diseases to the U.S., wrote Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., a retired obstetrician-gynecologist, in a July 7 letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to announce on Monday that he is ordering 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S. border with Mexico, according to reports from The Monitor and The Houston Chronicle.

In the western Mexican state of Michoacan, civilian militias have challenged a powerful drug cartel known as the Knights Templar. The vigilante uprising, which spurred the Mexican government to send soldiers and police to help counter the cartel, was fueled by migrants who returned to Mexico after years living north of the border.

Reny Pineda, who was raised in Los Angeles, is one of those migrants. When he returned to his homeland in Mexico, he found a new life fighting drug lords.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

Demonstrators across the nation are staging hundreds of protests against illegal immigration this weekend. They reflect a backlash against government resources going to the more than 50,000 unaccompanied minors who have crossed the southern U.S. border in recent months. This week, Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, announced he'll house some of those miners in L.A. as they await court hearings with funding from the federal government. City resources will not be used. I asked Mayor Garcetti why his city should take this on.

What Honduran Children Are Fleeing

Jul 16, 2014

One participant in the debate over what to do with unaccompanied minors crossing into the U.S. from Central America is Sonia Nazario.

Nazario is author of the acclaimed 2006 book “Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with his Mother,” which she updated in 2013.

AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool

Hundreds of immigrant children held at the southern border could be moved to a military base near Tacoma.

Federal and local officials plan to discuss the option Wednesday.

"They call me the Wolf," said the 25-year-old human smuggler sitting in front of me, sipping a Coke and stepping away for frequent cellphone calls.

"Everybody says we're the problem, but it's the reverse. The gringos don't want to get their hands dirty. So I bring them the Mexicans and Central Americans to do the dirty work for them," he says, smiling.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups sued the federal government Wednesday for its failure to provide legal representation to immigrant children in deportation proceedings.

The federal government continues to struggle with a flood of immigrant children arriving at the U.S. border with Mexico. Today, a class-action suit filed in Seattle seeks additional legal help for these and all other children who face possible deportation.

It's turning into the largest influx of asylum seekers on U.S. soil since the 1980 Mariel boatlift out of Cuba.

Since October, more than 52,000 children — most from Central America and many of them unaccompanied by adults — have been taken into custody. That's nearly double last year's total and 10 times the number from 2009.

People who enter the U.S. and nearby countries illegally from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras should not be forced to return home and should be treated as refugees, a U.N. agency says. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says people from those countries are subject to persecution.

From Geneva, Lisa Schlein reports for our Newscast unit:

Homeland Security buses carrying migrant children and families were rerouted Tuesday to a facility in San Diego after American flag-waving protesters blocked the group from reaching a suburban processing center.

The standoff in Murrieta came after Mayor Alan Long urged residents to complain to elected officials about the plan to transfer the Central American migrants to California to ease overcrowding of facilities along the Texas-Mexico border. Many protesters held U.S. flags, while others held signs reading “stop illegal immigration,” and “illegals out!”

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