BUFFALO, N.Y. – University at Buffalo Law School Professor
and immigration expert Rick Su says the ongoing flood of Central
American children coming to the U.S. differs from other refugee
crises because of the large number of children leaving their
families and risking their lives to find new homes.
“I think on one hand, it’s the numbers,” Su
says. “We’ve gone to an unprecedented level in terms of
minors actually coming to the country and seeking protection, of
some sort or another.”
But Su stressed that the crisis is not solely about numbers. The
U.S. government deports or excludes at least 500,000 illegal
immigrants a year, according to Su.
“The difference is that this is about children,” he
says. “And we have not had to actually deal with this many
children at any stage up until this point.”
Su’s commentary is available in a video he made for the
Since the beginning of 2014, more than 52,000 unaccompanied
children, mostly from Central America, have illegally crossed the
Mexican border into the U.S., already more than double the previous
year’s total. The White House expects as many as 90,000
children will have crossed the border by the end of 2014.
The children are often fleeing drug-fueled gang violence in
their home countries, often being pressured to work as carriers for
deadly drug deals. Immigration experts expect up to 140,000
of these children will try to escape their dangerous surroundings
and escape to the U.S. by the end of 2015.
Su says existing immigration law forbids the U.S. government
from sending child refugees back into danger, or
“harm’s way,” as he describes it.
“Since World War II, we have a law on the books that says
if anyone comes and seeks protection from persecution, we would
have to make sure that we do not have blood on our hands -- to send
them back into a situation in which they may be killed or harmed or
tortured, or otherwise persecuted by either a government force, or
an organization the government is unwilling or unable to
Su says the current flood of children entering the
country’s southern borders is not the more common immigration
issue that usually has to do with economics.
“It’s much more of a refugee situation that we
usually talk about in the Middle East or Africa,” Su says.
“Except it’s happening in our own backyard.”
Su is available for interviews on this and other immigration
issues. Contact Su at firstname.lastname@example.org.