Top Story — Some 800 unaccompanied child migrants who traveled to the United States from Central America in the last few months will be relocated to two Dallas area campsites over the next few days.
The U.S. Border Patrol reports that at least 10,588 unaccompanied children crossed into the United States in October and November alone, double the number of young migrants who were apprehended during the same period last year. Many of the children say they embarked on the dangerous journey north to flee gang-related violence in their home countries and may qualify for asylum or other forms of relief from deportation.
The surge of children crossing the border echoes the crisis from summer 2014, when more than 10,000 child migrants arrived to the United States in June alone. Numbers started to drop in July 2014 after U.S. officials put pressure on Mexican authorities to crack down on immigration of Central Americans within their borders. During the first half of 2015, Mexico increased deportations by 56 percent, resulting in a decrease in apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border.
While adult migrants and families are housed in detention facilities, unaccompanied children from countries that do not border the United States have special rights; a 2008 human-trafficking law requires Homeland Security to turn them over to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours of their apprehension by border officials. They also must be housed in the least restrictive conditions possible, unlike their adult counterparts, some of whom have taken up hunger strikes to protest the conditions and length of their detentions.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have begun collecting facial and eye scans of non-residents attempting to enter the country on foot at a heavily trafficked border crossing with Mexico, as part of a trial initiative to track immigrants who remain in the country after their visas expire.
- Havana police detained at least six human rights protestors, although activists reported many more detentions on Thursday, the United Nations’ “Human Rights Day”.
- The credit rating agency Moody’s upgraded Cuba’s credit rating from stable to positive, citing the warming relationship with the United States and the decreased influence of Venezuelan financial aid.
- Human rights groups held demonstrations in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on Thursday, citing claims of rampant voter fraud in the country’s October elections and calling for the government to abandon plans to hold a run-off presidential election later this month.
- El Salvaodr’s legislature on Thursday passed a law seeking to remove the statute of limitations that protects Catholic Church figures accused of the sexual abuse of minors, crimes that in some cases took place decades ago.
- Honduran national team soccer player Arnold Peralta was shot dead Thursday outside of a shopping mall while on vacation in his hometown of La Ceiba.
- The electoral success of the Venezuelan opposition in the National Assembly has created a rush among lawmakers still in power to pass as many laws as possible before the opposition takes over in early January with a two-thirds supermajority.
- Amid ongoing corruption allegations implicating Colombia’s national police force, President Juan Manuel Santos has announced the creation of a commission to investigate the claims, which include the illegal surveillance of journalists and the organization of a male prostitution ring.
- Ecuador’s Finance Minister Fausto Herrera announced on Thursday that the country is ready to repay a round of foreign bonds in full and has already put aside $650 million to do so, despite woes due to slumping global oil prices.
- Peru’s central bank announced on Thursday that it will be raising its interest rate to 3.75 percent in an attempt to control inflation brought about by the devaluation of its currency.
- Tensions are rising among Brazilian lawmakers in the committee tasked with deciding whether to investigate lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha on corruption charges, with critics saying that Cunha opened impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff as a distraction from his own legal woes.
- Brazil’s Verde Asset Management asserted in a letter to its clients that even if Rousseff were impeached, it would be unlikely that the economic situation would improve, as the government formed in her absence would not have the ability to push through the unpopular measures the firm says are needed to revive the economy.
- After Mauricio Macri’s inauguration as Argentina’s new president on Thursday, the former mayor of Buenos Aires announced plans for free-market reforms, improved relations with the United States and a push for more transparency in reporting government figures.
- Chile has decided to extend its congressional working term by a week as the government attempts to push past gridlock and tackle a stack of pending reforms, including tax reforms that would pay for her pending universal education law, that need to be addressed before recess in February.