Local Advocates Say Border Crisis is a Humanitarian Crisis

Published 07/10 2014 06:21PM

Updated 07/10 2014 06:34PM

As the immigration crisis at the border continues to unfold, some Central Valley organizations are getting involved.

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America have entered the country illegally.

Nationwide, heated debate continues about what should be done to address the crisis.

About 57,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America have crossed the border since October.

It's a humanitarian crisis at the border that's becoming larger than just an immigration issue.

"It's heartbreaking. It really is," says Grisanti Valencia, Central Valley organizer of the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance.

The issue is personal for Valencia.

She says, she and her family left Mexico when she was a young child to escape a violent father when the law gave them no protection.

Earlier in the week, Valencia's organization and other Central Valley organizations, rallied in front of Fresno City Hall to bring attention to the humanitarian crisis.

"They don't migrate for this American Dream that we always talk about. They migrate to survive," Valencia says.

But there's been heated debate around the nation. Many are concerned that the country can't absorb those who enter the country illegally.

More than 360,000 deportation cases are pending, and those that involve minors aren't that simple.

"[There are] some policies and provisions that require immigrant agents to treat children differently than they treat adults when they encounter them at a border or port of entry," says Jessica Smith Bobadilla, director of the New American Legal Clinic at the San Joaquin College of Law. Smith Bobadilla is also an immigration attorney.

President Barack Obama has requested nearly $3.7 billion to add more border patrol agents, judges and detention facilities. But he's getting pushback from Republicans, including a Valley congressman, who say Obama has mishandled the entire immigration situation.     

In a statement, Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican from Tulare, says, "We can no longer tolerate this dysfunctional immigration system that cannot reliably record who is coming in and out of our country. What we see today is an intolerable breakdown in the rule of law." 

Valencia says advocates from grassroots organizations are planning to march from Merced down to the border July 22 through August 16 to bring attention to the issue.

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