WASHINGTON - Thousands of immigrant children are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America and crossing into the Southwest United States.
They can live in American cities, attend public schools, and possibly work in the U.S. for years without consequences.
An investigation by the Associated Press describes two main reasons.
One is an overburdened and deeply flawed system of immigration courts. The second is a 2002 law that's intended to protect children's welfare.
There's recognition throughout Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador that children who make the dangerous trip can effectively remain in the U.S. for years before facing even a moderate risk of deportation. The Obama Administration estimates that it will catch 90,000 children attempting to illegally cross the border without their parents before the end of the budget year.
The administration has asked Congress for about $2 billion to spend on security, anti-violence, and gang control programs in Central America. The government has also asked southwest military bases in Texas, Oklahoma, and California to open temporary shelters. Churches in New Mexico are also providing aid.
Source: Associated Press