Ill. politicians: is it moral to request background checks for undocumented children?

Fifty-seven thousand unaccompanied immigrant children have crossed the border from Mexico into the United States over the past nine months, many of them from Central American countries. Sen. Mark Kirk stated that 429 of these children were currently in custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Chicago, but that number was not confirmed. In mid-July, Kirk sent letters to the ambassadors of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. In these letters, he requested information about whether the children’s home countries had completed background checks on these “unaccompanied alien children” prior to their arrival in the United States. “The recent surge of UACs [unaccompanied alien children] crossing the United States’ southern border is a humanitarian crisis, which also has the potential to present a serious threat to our country and communities should they have criminal records in their home country,” Kirk wrote in these letters. It was not confirmed if any of the children allegedly in the HHS’ custody had undergone any background screening in their home countries. Kirk later stated that “our government owes it to the American people to facilitate a sharing of records and reassure our nation that these individuals pose no threat.” Meanwhile, Illinois state Rep. Luis Gutierrez believes that Kirk should be “ashamed of himself” for his attitude toward the undocumented children. According to a statement released by Gutierrez, “These are children and [Kirk] is trying to paint them as criminals and make Americans afraid of children. That is shameful behavior.” Gutierrez highlighted the example that many of them may have been fleeing violence, abuse and sex slavery in their own countries. Both responses are related to the debate about whether current laws protecting migrant children should remain intact, even though some argue that increasing the number of deportations to Central American countries could solve the U.S. immigration crisis.]]>

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