Georgia residents may be interested to know that according to numbers released by Customs and Border Protection in July 2014, 55,000 family units were taken into custody while trying to cross the border into the United States. That figure represents a 500 percent increase since 2013. A family unit is defined a group of people that consists of one or more children traveling with an adult relative.
In response to the surge in immigrants, President Obama has opened detention centers to hold immigrants from countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The camps hold mostly women, and the plan is reportedly to hold those who crossed the border illegally at those camps until they can be deported back to their home country.
In most cases, family units are treated much like adult immigrants in the fact that they are held in camps before being fast tracked back home. Unaccompanied minors are generally placed in facilities that are run by religious or nonprofit groups until a court hearing is held to determine their status. While family detention has been tried in the past, it has led to lawsuits and allegations that they are held in former prisons or in otherwise deplorable conditions. Most family detention centers were shut down after the lawsuits, but many have been opened due to the crisis. This reversal of policy has drawn criticism from advocates for those who have entered the United States without proper documentation.
The threat of deportation can be very real for some individuals who entered the country. However, many of those people are able to have their cases heard in court. An attorney who is familiar with immigration law could provide those individuals with representation and guidance.
Source: NBC News, "Flood of Immigrant Families at Border Revives Dormant Detention Program", Hannah Rappleye and Lisa Riordan Seville, July 25, 2014