Border Patrol officials struggling to keep up with the increasing number of minors illegally crossing the Mexican border are not turning away persons with known gang affiliations. Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307 in the Rio Grande Valley, explained that a Border Patrol agent he represents helped reunite a teenage gang member with his family in the United States. Cabrera notes the young member of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), a transnational criminal gang, had no criminal record in the U.S., but asks, “If he’s a confirmed gang member in his own country, why are we letting him in here?”
“I’ve heard people come in and say, ‘You’re going to let me go, just like you let my mother go, just like you let my sister go. You’re going to let me go as well, and the government’s going to take care of us,’” Cabrera says. “Until we start mandatory detentions, mandatory removals, I don’t think anything is going to change. As a matter of fact, I think it’s going to get worse.”
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Newspapers in El Salvador and Honduras are promoting policies by the Obama administration that defer deportation to minors brought to the United States as children by their parents — known as “Dreamers” — and those that are housing illegal children at military bases in the South and West.
“Almost all agree that a child who crossed the border illegally with their parents, or in search of a father or a better life, was not making an adult choice to break our laws, and should be treated differently than adult violators of the law,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is quoted in a story about a new two-year extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act published by Diario El Mundo in El Salvador.
Signed by President Barack Obama in 2012, the law grants temporary legal status to many young illegal immigrants, ending the threat of deportation for at least two years.
The policy, however, does not entitle the immigrants to state services. The law was renewed for two more years.
“With the renewal of DACA, we act according to our values and code of this great nation,” Johnson said. “But the biggest task of comprehensive immigration reform is yet to come.”
Meanwhile, La Prensa of Honduras discusses in a report how as many as 500 illegal minors are being housed at the Naval Base Ventura County in Southern California.
“The children will be accommodated for between three and four months, while their parents or relatives are located in the United States,” the report says.
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A Taliban commander close to the negotiations over the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl told TIME Thursday that the deal made to secure Bergdahl’s release has made it more appealing for fighters to capture American soldiers and other high-value targets.
“It’s better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than kidnapping hundreds of useless people,” the commander said, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird.”
The commander has been known to TIME for several years and has consistently supplied reliable information about Bergdahl’s captivity.
The U.S. agreed on May 31 to exchange five Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for Bergdahl, America’s only living prisoner of war. Following the deal, the outpouring of relief by those who had long lobbied to “Bring Bowe Home” was soon eclipsed by accusations and recriminations as Republican lawmakers accused the administration of making a dangerous precedent.