Border officials: Unaccompanied minor crossings not expected to become crisis in 2015

Federal border officials do not expect the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing into the U.S. from Central America this year to escalate into a crisis like it did in the summer of 2014, citing stepped-up enforcement on the border and Mexico apprehending more of the children before they could reach the U.S.:

About 68,000 unaccompanied minors, mainly from Central America, crossed into the U.S. last summer, inundating border patrol, which could not handle the workload. President Barack Obama received nearly $4 billion from Congress to redeploy agents and immigration judges to the border and expedite deportations. Unaccompanied children crossing the border rose 90 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

“I’m happy to say all the work we’ve done last year is bearing fruit,” Daniel Ragsdale, deputy director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told the Border Security Expo Wednesday in Phoenix, according to the AP. Also addressing the conference was Border Patrol Deputy Chief Ronald D. Vitello, who said “this year is far better off than last year.”

The 2014 border crisis was largely attributed to Central Americans’ misunderstanding of U.S. immigration policy:

The border crisis was believed to be fueled by misinterpretations of immigration law among Central Americans who believed the U.S. would not deport children who cross the border. The U.S. then created a public information campaign in the affected countries — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – to let people know that the children would be turned away if they crossed the border.

Mexico apprehended 22,000 Central American children in 2014, three times more than were apprehended in 2013.