Charlotte area getting few unaccompanied immigrant children in b - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte area getting few unaccompanied immigrant children in border crisis

Posted: Updated:

Across political lines, people on both aisles agree the influx of unaccompanied children from Central America crossing the border is a humanitarian crisis.

The Department of Homeland Security estimates 57,000 undocumented minors have made the journey since October and been detained by US Border Patrol.

It's unclear how many of those children have been sent to North Carolina, awaiting the immigration court process.

Armando Bellmas, with the Latin American Coalition, says he's heard of a few cases but there's no indication of a big increase. Bellmas says one case involves a young girl from Honduras who made her way to the US border. She was sent to Michigan by border agents and then eventually arrived in Charlotte to stay with her mother.

Congressman Robert Pittenger told WBTV that his office has not be notified of a surge in undocumented immigrant children who came here without an adult, but he says it could become a problem. "A lot of these kids are very sick, with diphtheria, tuberculosis. These are very serious issues, particularly when you consider these kids will be going into public schools," said Pittenger.

"We care about these young kids," said Pittenger, but he says their arrival shows a failure of immigration policy and border security.

Fresh off a group meeting of governors with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell, Governor Pat McCrory echoed those concerns.

McCrory said if children are sent to North Carolina, state leaders must be notified and given time to prepare. "We need to be able to approve whether or not they come here," he said. "We have to do an evaluation on the cost on our Medicaid, education and foster home community," said McCrory. The Governor also expressed concern about who the refugee children would be living with during their immigration proceedings, and whether those guardians would have background checks.

It's all part of a complex discussion evolving in how to help the children while not spreading resources too thin among the communities where they live. 

The country's backlogged immigration courts are bracing for a deluge of cases as more children flood the border.

Lauren Alder Reid, counsel for legislative and public affairs at the U.S. Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review, says the courts have temporarily reassigned judges to hear cases in southern Texas and at a New Mexico detention facility via teleconferencing since the influx.

She could not say how many cases have been postponed, but she expects the surge in immigration will have a significant impact on other immigrants' cases.

The immigration courts are backlogged with more than 375,000 cases, and it can take months or years for immigrants not in detention facilities to get a hearing, let alone a resolution.

Copyright 2014 WBTV. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow