Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

June 20, 2014

US revamps screening of migrant kid sponsors

SANTA ANA, Calif. — The federal government has resumed checking the fingerprints of people other than parents who step forward to care for migrant children detained at the border amid concern by immigrant advocates that skipping the screening could put children at risk.

Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the Administration for Children and Families, said the agency overseeing the shelter program for migrant youth has gone back to a previous policy of only exempting parents and legal guardians from having their fingerprints taken. No child was harmed by the more lax fingerprint policy, Wolfe said.

The number of unaccompanied Central American children apprehended at the border with Mexico has surged in recent weeks and could reach 90,000 this year. To speed children through shelters and free up bed space, officials had stopped running fingerprint checks against criminal databases for parents and other sponsors who offered to care for them, immigrant advocates said.

Until last year, advocates said officials had checked the fingerprints of all sponsors, including parents.

“Any time you are reducing the requirements, that is a concern,” said Kimi Jackson, director of the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project, which offers know-your-rights presentations to children in detention. “There are people who will sponsor kids out in order to use them for things that are not in their best interest.”

Immigrant advocates say rising gang violence and threats have driven the children to leave their countries and trek across Mexico to reach the United States. Since last month, the Obama administration has opened temporary shelters on military bases to help care for the children until they can be reunited with a sponsor, preferably a parent or close adult relative.

Most of the children are reunited with family, according to Wolfe’s agency, which on Thursday started a bilingual hotline for parents trying to find out if their children are in custody.

Advocates say the government faces a daunting task of balancing speed and safety when releasing the children, many who are fleeing violent crime back home, to relatives or friends they haven’t seen in years.

The average stay of a migrant child in a shelter is now near 35 days. It was 61 days between 2008 and 2010 in a study of 14,000 children by the Vera Institute of Justice.

For years, advocates pushed for a quicker release so children could be reunited with family. While they don’t want the children to be unnecessarily detained, advocates now worry they aren’t getting vital social or legal services because they are being funneled through the system so quickly.

Advocates also fear children might not confide in case workers about the dangers they face if they’ve only known them a short time before being released.

Kimberly Haynes, director for children’s services at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, said the government says it is going to have contractors follow up with children who are released to their parents because they are expected to remain in federal custody only about a week. But she said it’s easy to lose track of them.

“We know of several kids who have disappeared before post follow-up services was able to be put into place,” she said.

Wendy Young, president of Washington-based Kids in Need of Defense, said it is hard to get children legal services when their shelter stay is so fleeting, and the rising influx means fewer are getting lawyers, which hurts their chances of fighting deportation.


Text Only
National, International News
  • Arizona Execution Dru_Rich copy.jpg Arizona’s McCain: Execution was torture

    U.S. Sen. John McCain says the execution of an Arizona inmate that lasted two hours was torture.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ukraine Plane_Rich copy.jpg US: Russia firing into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.
    Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP7107260254 copy.jpg Today in History for Saturday, July 26, 2014

    Today is Saturday, July 26, the 207th day of 2014. There are 158 days left in the year.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Iraq_Rich copy.jpg Iraq elects new president amid attacks

    Iraqi lawmakers elected a veteran Kurdish politician on Thursday to replace long-serving Jalal Talabani as the country’s new president in the latest step toward forming a new government. But a series of attacks killed dozens of people and Islamic militants destroyed a Muslim shrine traditionally said to be the burial place of the Prophet Jonah, underscoring the overwhelming challenges facing the divided nation.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hong Kong Shutdown_Rich copy.jpg Hong Kong firms on edge as blockade looms

    As activists vow to shut down Hong Kong’s financial district in protest at China’s attempt to hobble democratic elections in the city, businessman Bernard Chan is preparing for the worst.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Israel Palest_Rich copy.jpg UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed

    A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets and children’s clothing scattered in the courtyard.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP00072403324 copy.jpg Today in History for Friday, July 25, 2014

    Today is Friday, July 25, the 206th day of 2014. There are 159 days left in the year.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rebels release train with bodies from downed jet

    Bowing to international pressure, pro-Moscow separatists released a train packed with bodies and handed over the black boxes from the downed Malaysia Airlines plane, four days after it plunged into rebel-held eastern Ukraine.

    July 22, 2014

  • Gaza death toll rises as truce effort intensifies

    A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza’s Hamas rulers signaled they won’t agree to an unconditional cease-fire, Israel’s prime minister said he’ll do whatever is necessary to keep Israelis safe from Hamas attacks and the overall Palestinian death toll surpassed 560.

    July 22, 2014

  • AP110722023493 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, July 22, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, July 22, the 203rd day of 2014. There are 162 days left in the year.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

Top News

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results