Welcoming Unaccompanied Alien Children to the United States

This study analyzes the impact of unaccompanied children coming from Central America into the United States illegally. It found that the influx of children reached peak levels during the summer of 2014. From 8,000 in FY 2008, the number of apprehended unaccompanied alien children (UACs) grew to 69,000 in FY 2014. After a slowdown last year (around 40,000 apprehended), border officials are expecting significant increases throughout FY 2016 and into FY 2017 (up to 75,000, if not more). According to DHS, the number of UACs coming across the border almost doubled in FY 2016 compared to the same period in FY 2015. The Obama administration depicted UACs as victims of human trafficking and invoked the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008 to protect them. This study draws a distinction between ‘trafficking’ – forced illegal entry by a third party with an intent to exploit the minor – and ‘smuggling’, mere illegal entry without any third party intent to exploit the minor. It also takes a nuanced approach which distinguishes ‘refugees’ from ‘illegal migrants.’ The study concludes with a brief analysis of United Nations refugee protocols and the overarching impact of UACs on American taxpayers.

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