The United States no longer has an illegal immigration problem. No, what it has is a refugee crisis. According to news reports, during the first eight months of fiscal year 2014 (October 2013 through May 2014), the US Border Patrol apprehended approximately 162,000 immigrants from Mexico and Central America trying to enter the US illegally byway of Texas' Rio Grande Valley. The figure, which surpasses the 154,000 people trying to cross over in this area in all of 2013, includes 47,017 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua -- some as young as 4 years old.
The number is apparently expected to reach 90,000 this year. By comparison, Border Patrol agents apprehended 3,304 children from Central America in 2009, an average of 6,500 annually during 2010-2012, and then about 21,537 last year. So we're looking at a more than 25-fold increase during the past five years in the number of children walking or hitch-hiking (atop trains) from Central America to the US.
More than 1,100 Central American kids are currently being held at a US Customs and Border Protection facility in Nogales, Arizona. This number will quickly grow, as more than 400 children are trying to cross the border daily.
And it doesn't appear that the mass migration of Central American children will let up anytime soon. According to CNN, "Immigrant rights agencies project that number could soar to 130,000 next year." Think about it... 130,000 children making the long trek north across Mexico to escape the violence and poverty in Central America. That would be more than the estimated 125,000 Cubans who escaped to Florida during the Mariel boatlift in 1980. The "Marielitos" were commonly referred to as refugees from Castro's Cuba.
Given the ridiculously high homicide rates in Central America, the growth of illegal drug trafficking and extortion by cartels and organized gangs, the militarization of police forces, the disintegration of the family structure, and the never-ending saga of extreme poverty and government corruption and incompetence, refugee status would also seem appropriate for the Central Americans -- at least for the children. Illegal immigrants just seems like such a huge misnomer.