Unaccompanied children immigrating to California
April 19, 2016
Immigration experts say a surge in unaccompanied children may cross the border this summer and enter California. Many of them are destined for Los Angeles County and other locations in the state. [KPPC]
Nearly 70,000 children — infants through age 17 — arrived alone at the United States border in 2014, according to U.S. Border Patrol statistics. Most came from Central American countries.
The number of unaccompanied children arriving in the United States dropped significantly in 2015, but the pace has picked up this year. The 2016 numbers are higher than both the 2014 and 2015 numbers were at this point in the year, said Adam Hunter, director of the Immigration and the States Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts.
In the current fiscal year, Los Angeles County has taken in nearly 1,500 unaccompanied children, the highest total among counties nationwide. The pace of arrivals tends to speed up during the summer months.
Authorities apprehend the children when they arrive, but many of them are released from federal shelters to sponsors — often relatives or connections who live in the United States. The children then rely on city and state services, like public schools, Hunter said. Sometimes it takes years to resolve their immigration cases.
California taxpayers are aiding some of the unaccompanied children with their legal battles. In 2014, California Gov. Jerry Brown allocated $3 million for legal nonprofits to help unaccompanied children with their immigration cases.