Thousands of children, some as young as five, have illegally crossed the United States’ southwestern border so far this year, with their numbers estimated to reach 60,000 by year end. Most are from Central American countries, and traveling without parents or other adults.
The cause of the surge is under debate. Some cite economic conditions and violence in the children’s home countries, or the hope of uniting with relatives already here. Others see it as a ploy for their parents to gain a foothold in the United States, made viable by the Obama administration’s immigration policies.
With more and more children arriving by the day, overwhelmed federal officials are scrambling to find safe and appropriate housing, settling some of them on military bases in Texas and Oklahoma. Maryland lawmakers have reportedly suggested Aberdeen Proving Ground, after rebuffing a plan to use empty Social Security offices in Baltimore, although it is unclear whether federal authorities are still considering Maryland locations.
Wherever they live, even temporarily, these children will need food, clothing, healthcare and schooling. What should be done about tens of thousands of unaccompanied children illegally crossing into the United States?