Fate of Central American children in Nogales is uncertain - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Fate of Central American children now in U.S. is uncertain

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

As of Monday, more than one-thousand mostly Central American children were sent to a Border Patrol holding facility in Nogales after being caught illegally crossing the Mexican border into Texas. How to handle all these children could be uncharted territory for the United States.

The present task remains to connect as many of the children with family elsewhere in the country so that Immigration and Customs Enforcement can set a court date for them.  But what happens then is a mystery.

"It really comes down to each individual child and their story that they have, what evidence they may be able to present, where their family is located, especially the parents," said immigration attorney Maurice Goldman.

Goldman pointed out that if these children say that they are afraid for their lives in their home countries in Central America, they will still face a "credible fear" interview process before being granted asylum in this country, which would let them stay because returning to their home country is then considered too dangerous.  Whether these children are repeating what they were told to say, or if they came here to be with other family members who successfully crossed the border, ICE must now make the decision for what happens next.

"When speaking with an officer from the Department of Homeland Security last week, he was really of the opinion that, regardless of what we do, there's always going to be one side of this debate screaming that we're doing the wrong thing," Goldman said.

State representatives have also toured the facility. State Representative Demion Clinco (D-Tucson) said that the Border Patrol should be commended for how it has tried to meet the needs of these children.  But he also says that the situation shines light on the federal government's lack of preparation in the realm of refugee resettlement by how it can handle so few people at one time.

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