$2 million to aid undocumented immigrants with legal proceedings
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — Hundreds of young undocumented immigrants are getting some help from Uncle Sam -- as two million dollars is headed to the border to pay lawyers who represent unaccompanied minors trying to enter the U.S. the department of justice has set up a grant program that will be run through Americorp. This as hundreds of people continues to arrive here -- fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. More than 400 undocumented immigrants have arrived here in recent months.
Most flown here from the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas -- which doesn't have the facilities to process all of them. We aren't seeing many unaccompanied minors here. Most are young families looking to start a new life. They're here today -- but will likely be gone tomorrow.
In recent months -- 410 undocumented immigrants have been flown from a facility like this one in South Texas to El Paso's Border Patrol processing centers.
The sudden surge in immigrants from Central America - has put a strain on resources - not only at the border -- but also on the legal system.
Kathleen Walker is one of the nation's leading immigration lawyers. "We're just dealing with a civil immigration enforcement. They're going to do the best they can to track them,” Walker explained.
She says most of the immigrants who came to El Paso are now leaving or have left for other cities to meet up with family. All will be assigned court hearings. Whether they show up -- is another matter.
"Don't know, don't know. You really don't have an answer to that… but it's true there's always going to be a risk of that. There's always been a risk of that since we've released people on their own recognizance."
According to an official with the national border patrol council -- less than five percent of those immigrants will show up for court. Places like Arizona are seeing more unaccompanied minors.
That creates even more challenges in the courts. "For a minor, we're not really talking about someone who's going to be subjected to a criminal indictment."
And as the costs and the challenges add up -- may are also wondering why we're now seeing the surge -- and whether even larger waves of undocumented immigrants may be on the way.
"I think the point of origin is where they need to ask and find out what is happening and why is this happening. Why are they coming here?,” Mayor Arturo Garino, Nogales, Arizona said.
Walker said she's heard as many as 20,000 more immigrants may try to enter the U.S. in the coming months. Congressman Beto O'rourke is requesting that the federal government pick up the tab and help local organizations who are providing food, beds, and medical care while they're here.