Border crisis leaves local undocumented children in limbo

by: Jenna Deery Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The nation's border crisis is now reaching Charlotte.
Hundreds of unaccompanied children are traveling thousands of miles and ending up in the Queen City, but many of them are sitting in limbo while judges decide their futures.
Recently, a city-initiated Immigrant Integration Task Force discussed the issue of unaccompanied minors reaching the U.S. borders and making their way to Charlotte.
A change in policy in Charlotte has undocumented children now going through Charlotte's Immigration Court where they can fill out an application, seeking asylum or face deportation.
A judge decides whether they can stay or if they have to go.
Charlotte's immigration court has had 1,011 new juvenile cases this year. In 2013, there were 716 cases and in 2012, there were 410 cases. Because of the influx in cases, it is taking longer for them to be heard. Some children have had to wait up to a year before their first hearing.
In the meantime, they are released to legal guardians and try to blend in to society.
"They are becoming members of our community. They are being enrolled in school and they are making friends, going to the doctor," said immigration attorney Benjamin Synder.
Snyder said most children go unrepresented in immigration court, which does not say a child is entitled to representation like a public defender.
"It's almost inconceivable to navigate this whole legal process as a minor from another country," said Snyder.
The plan to slow the stream of unaccompanied children into the United States is coming together in Washington.
After a closed-door meeting on Friday morning, Republican House members said the new plan is a scaled-back version of earlier proposals. It would provide the president with less than $1 billion to send more resources to the border. President Barack Obama requested $3.7 billion.
The plan includes changes to a 2008 anti-trafficking law that would make it easier to deport children coming from Central America.

The federal government is tracking how many unaccompanied children end up with sponsors in each state. This list will be updated monthly: