Experts Raise Red Flag about Walkaway Migrants

( – The US-Mexico border crisis has reached a point where Border Patrol agents are unable to process all the migrants who request processing, resulting in people simply crossing the border and walking into the USA to begin their lives north of the border. Border Patrol even has a name for such migrants: “walk-aways”, not to be confused with the “got-aways” who manage to evade arrest.

Unlike the “got-aways”, “walk-aways” are not migrants who have escaped from Border Patrol agents, but instead are not taken into custody because Border Patrol lacks the manpower to detain and process everyone who arrives. People traffickers are reported to bring their charges to the US border, instruct them to cross into the US, and leave them there to wait for American officers to find them and arrest them for processing. However, with Border Patrol so thinly stretched, migrants may find themselves waiting for days at a time for somebody to take them into custody. If a migrant is not in custody, he or she is free to leave, whether back into Mexico, or onward into America.

This practice has caused concern from different quarters, with negative impacts for both Americans and the border crossers being highlighted. Chief of the US Border Patrol, Jason Owens, referred to the high numbers of migrants entering the US without processing as a “national security threat”, when interviewed recently by CBS News. He said that over the last five months, the USA has seen tens of thousands of illegal immigrants cross the southern border without being apprehended by the authorities.

Although Border Patrol agents work to provide food and water and to keep single men separate from the families and children in order to prevent problems, they do not take migrants into custody if they do not have the staffing power. This means those people are free to walk away and the agents do not need to make provisions for the migrants in line with the Flores Settlement, an agreement that dictates the level of care provided for migrants in custody.

A group of lawyers who represent migrant women and children is currently suing the US government, alleging that Border Patrol has violated the terms of the Flores Settlement by providing a poor standard of care to illegal incomers. The lawsuit alleges that women and children have been left without adequate food or shelter, some sleeping in the dirt, for days at a time.

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