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Dear Editor:
This is in response to the impassioned plea for passage of the Unaccompanied Child Act by Christopher Nugent. The argument that all juveniles come to the US illegally are fleeing prostitution, slavery or abuse is incorrect and not supported by any facts. The vast majority of juveniles illegally entering the US are either seeking work or joining or awaiting the arrival of family members, legal and illegal. They are "fleeing” economic conditions and poverty, same as any adult illegal. Surely some cases of juveniles fleeing true cases of abuse or slavery or prostitution, but do not warrant such a sweeping reform that will always favor the juvenile. The Feinstein bill would create a new class of immigrants – those under 18 – and would ensure that they enjoy unprecedented rights, and protection from removal, even if the parents want their child back in their home country, and even if the juvenile is a drug abuser, the next Lee Malvo, gang member, forger, accomplished liar or criminal. This is an open arms policy to anyone hailing from a background of poverty, as millions of children unfortunately do. As for the "innocent children” referred to, and those detained in secure facilities – what assurances are there that these really are "children” receiving the benefits of this bill? How many currently in ORR custody are found every day to have lied about their age thanks to the common knowledge that by claiming to be under 18, they will go to foster care or a shelter? "Inhumanity" to children? The shelters these kids go to exceed the lives they left in their home countries in most cases, and the homes they will go on to when released to family members. As there is no real mechanism in place to determine age, and with juveniles, the burden of proof is on ICE instead of the alien, as it is with adults, this bill a virtually a new amnesty for any juvenile. Of course, most immigration lawyers want this bill passed for two reasons – to be paid for representation and to fulfill misguided social agendas. Frankly there are far too many US citizen children who deserve the bonanza of rights and benefits this bill would afford any poor juvenile who claims to be under 18 who sets foot across the border seeking work or to join family. Juveniles or not, they are still illegal aliens whom we know nothing about, even if they truly are juveniles. Those who have true claims of abuse or persecution should – and for the most part – are handled accordingly and appropriately. But enforcement must remain a part of the picture concerning illegal juveniles. This bill would just pick up where the smuggler leaves off, ensuring their entry and permanent placement in the US, no matter where the parents are.

Karla Cruz
Phoenix, AZ