CBS News – The Obama administration and House Republicans remain at odds over the crisis at the border. There’s one thing on which they do agree: fast-tracking the deportation of thousands of young Central Americans who entered the country illegally.
But once they are deported, an even greater challenge is waiting for them back home, CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez reports.
They arrive by the busload: dozens of young people, some holding infants, who had packed bags and headed north. But they were caught before they could reach the U.S. and were sent back to El Salvador.
“It was one of the toughest decisions of my life,” said one 16-year-old who’d fled with her child. “But I’m afraid for my son because of the violence and gangs here, so I had to try.”
During the first three weeks of July, almost 1,500 deportees came through one processing center, 467 of them minors.
Officials ask basic information, allow them to call a relative, and then send them on their way.
They return, in most cases, to the same circumstances from which they ran away: entrenched poverty, lack of opportunity, and skyrocketing gang violence.
El Salvador has the world’s fourth-highest murder rate.
Zaira Navas is executive director of the country’s Council for Children and Adolescents.
“Certainly there is violence that leads to some of the citizens leaving the country,” she said, “but it is not the only cause of the situation.”
She believes young people are being lured away by smugglers or relatives in the U.S. “With all due respect, some people would say that these are excuses that are being offered up for the fact that government has not done much to prevent the growth of these gangs, and that the violence is the reason the kids are trying to leave,” Navas said.
Navas does think there is still hope for children in El Salvador.
“Is the solution to say, in order to satisfy whoever listens, the government has failed?” Navas said, “What we should say is, what are we going to do and how are we going to resolve it?”
Navas thinks the solution includes identifying bad neighborhoods, but instead of just a hard-line police approach, she also favors prevention measures, bringing services and investments to these communities.
The test will be what happens after these teenagers pass this center’s gates.
“If things get worse here, I’ll try again,” one minor said.
The Obama administration has said that any minors who have made it to the United States and qualify for asylum will be allowed to go through that process, but there are concerns that speeding up the deportations will not allow for a thorough review of those cases.