Watch the roundtable here:

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO)—In response to Senator John Cornyn and Ted Cruz’s visits to migrant centers, child advocates met during a virtual roundtable to discuss unaccompanied children at the border.

Joining the roundtable was President and CEO of Children at risk Bob Sanborn, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley Sister Norma Pimentel, Policy and Advocacy Strategist, ACLU of Texas Michael Seifert, Staff Attorney, ProBAR Roberto Reyes-Perez, Executive Director, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Linda Y. Rivas, Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) and Director for Center for New American Children, Children at Risk Yael Ross.

Rise in unaccompanied migrant children began in November, spans administrations, experts say

The advocates shared their experiences caring for unaccompanied children throughout the years and emphasized the importance of uniting them with family members in the United States once they arrive.

“We need to ensure that all unaccompanied children are treated humanely as they are processed into the U.S,” says Dr. Bob Sanborn, President, and CEO of CHILDREN AT RISK.

“It is of utmost importance that every child is released swiftly into the care of their guardian or sponsor,” said Sanborn. “This is crucial for the sake of the child’s well-being. It is imperative that our elected leaders work together to address this issue and that we uphold the basic human rights of each and every child.” 

Furthermore, the panel discussed that the current influx of unaccompanied children arriving at the border is not something new.

However, the pandemic and immigration policy from the last four years created a situation in which children and families who had previously attempted or intended to make the trek are now doing so.

With the new admiration in office, advocates have seen new approaches to expedite the reunification of children with their families.

“It’s not that the Biden administration has somehow implemented policies that are creating a new crisis at the border, rather, the administration is following the law as it applies to children,” said Jennifer Nagda.

While there has been an effort by the current administration to get unaccompanied children to their families, there are delays in that process that cause children to be held by border patrol law enforcement agents for longer than the 72-hour allowed by law.

Whereas the efforts have been put towards creating temporary holding facilities, members of the panel believe that the same if not more effort should be put towards getting the children to their families.

Nagda added that in the past, and now, unaccompanied children have someone in the U.S. that their parents intended for them to go to when they arrived.

Depoliticizing the matter and seeing it as a matter of helping children is the take away put forth by the panel.