The United States is seeing a troubling rise in unaccompanied children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Resolving the problems at the border will require action from the Biden administration, Congress and the courts.
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Over the past year, the Trump administration has put forth an array of measures to deter immigration to the United States, including separating families, enacting a zero-tolerance stance toward irregular crossings, and—most recently—requiring asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while awaiting their asylum claim decisions. Despite these efforts, in February 2019, apprehension numbers from the United States’s southern border hit their highest levels in 10 years.
The Trump administration’s efforts to establish a “zero tolerance policy” prosecuting all irregular border-crossers ended in high-profile disarray but the fallout continues. Months after the president signed an executive order halting the family separations that his administration had implemented, more than 500 children still wait to be reunited with their parents.
Over the past week, the separation of 2,000 children from their parents along the U.S. border has forced immigration into the national spotlight. President Trump, who initiated the separations and then sought to quash criticism with a muddled executive order, has portrayed the policy as a harsh but necessary measure to stop a wave of migrants “bringing death and destruction” into the United States.
It’s a sticky-hot Sunday night in Tenosique, Tabasco, and Josue is carefully massaging powder onto his feet. “Do your feet hurt?” he asks, catching my gaze and offering the bottle in my direction. Mine did not, but unlike Josue, I had not spent the previous two days walking 37 miles from the Mexico-Guatemala border and dodging the Mexican immigration authorities along the way.