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Perry Urges Obama to Address Surge in Immigrant Minors

Photo illustration by Todd Wiseman / Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

Citing an unprecedented level of unaccompanied illegal-immigrant minors breaching the U.S.-Mexico border, Gov. Rick Perrysent a letter Friday asking the Obama administration to address the “humanitarian crisis.”

Calling the issue a byproduct of Obama’s failed effort to secure the border, Perry cites recent media reports that indicate 5,200 unaccompanied and illegal-immigrant minors crossed in to the country during the first six months of the 2012 fiscal year, including 1,300 in March alone. It is unclear from the letter how many minors crossed into Texas.

“To be clear, Texas has been working diligently to protect the immediate health and safety of our citizens and the unaccompanied minors now in our state. However, by failing to take immediate action to return these minors to their countries of origin and prevent and discourage others from coming here, the federal government is perpetuating the problem,” Perry wrote.

Aside from the danger the teens are exposed to while traveling, including violent criminal groups that rape, kidnap, extort and even kill, Perry said a recent measles scare and outbreak of chickenpox adds to the concerns.

Perry said that most of the minors come from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico and that projections indicate the crossings will increase.

A recent report by the Pew Hispanic Center, though, says that the net flow of immigrants from Mexico has stopped, if not reversed.

“The standstill appears to be the result of many factors, including the weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates and broader economic conditions in Mexico,” the study said.

Perry added that he has asked his staff to work with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to address the situation and seek answers that the Obama administration has been unwilling or unable to find.

‘This must stop, Mr. President, and it is your responsibility to make that happen,” Perry wrote.

Julian Aguilar covered the 81st legislative session for the Rio Grande Guardian. Previously, he reported from the border for the Laredo Morning Times. A native of El Paso, he has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Texas and a master's degree in journalism from the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at the University of North Texas.
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