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Child Migrants to the US: An Immigration Crisis or a Refugee Crisis?

52 thousand children attempted to enter the United States last year alone. This number is only including unaccompanied minors and those apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol. Thousands more attempt to enter the U.S. with their parents. Experts estimate that somewhere near 90,000 children total attempted to enter the U.S. last year.

This is leaps and bounds ahead of the immigration rate just three years ago, when less than 7,000 children were entering the U.S. annually. Our current system was built to sustain those types of numbers, not the phenomenon we are currently seeing.

Many of these child immigrants are coming from Central America, namely El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Statistically, civilians are more likely to be murdered in these parts of Central America than people were likely to be killed at the height of the Iraq insurgency.

Many children attempt to flee to the United States seeking asylum so that they can escape being recruited into the violent gangs that have taken over much of the region. If the large influx of immigrants to the U.S. was for economic reasons, this could aptly be considered an immigration crisis. But jobs and money are not the primary reason – these immigrants are fleeing violence, making this a refugee crisis.

New York Times reporter Sonio Nazario wrote an opinion piece on this refugee crisis recently, saying,

To permanently stem this flow of children, we must address the complex root causes of violence in Honduras, as well as the demand for illegal drugs in the United States that is fueling that violence. In the meantime, however, we must recognize this as a refugee crisis. Many Americans, myself included, believe in deporting unlawful immigrants, but see a different imperative with refugees.

The United States has laws that provide asylum and other forms of humanitarian aid to people fleeing their home countries to escape persecution. If you are seeking asylum or refugee status, contact a New York City immigration lawyer at Fisher Legal Group to discuss your case today.

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