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Many undocumented immigrants seeking asylum are minors

Reports indicate that the number of minors who are crossing over into the U.S. illegally and alone is growing.

Since its foundation, the United States has been viewed as a refuge from tyranny, oppression and physical threat. That dream is still in effect today with the unrest that is occurring in many countries and now, undocumented children are making the dangerous journey from South America to seek a new home in Orange County and be granted asylum.

The numbers are growing

At the end of 2015, CNS News reported that the number of minors stopped by border patrol agents while traveling alone and crossing over into the U.S. illegally numbered at 5,129 at the beginning of the year. By the end of the year, the number then increased to 10,588. When those numbers were compared to the previous year, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency reported a growth of 106 percent. Minors are considered children under the age of 17.

The Washington Free Beacon states that the numbers are continuing to climb. From January to May of this year, almost 20,000 children have been taken into custody by agents after illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. If this continues, authorities say that the numbers for the year could rival those of 2014 when over 52,000 minors were apprehended.

Fleeing the violence

Many of the youth are coming from El Salvador where gang violence occurs on a regular basis. According to NPR news, gangs have taken control throughout the country. People who own businesses often face death if they do not provide the gang in their area with a daughter, son or protection money. Gangs even control where people can travel. In the country's capital, people were forbidden to use public transit and to make sure they couldn't, the gangs killed eight bus drivers.

However, El Salvador is not the only dangerous place for a child to live. Media reports show that Honduras and Guatemala, part of the Northern Triangle in South America, feature similar violence where gangs extort citizens for money, force young people to join them and display themselves in violent acts as a way to retain control over their territories. There is little opportunity for the children to obtain an education and poverty is rampant.

Nowhere else to go

The governments of these countries have tried to gain control by cracking down on gang leaders but reports indicate that such efforts only appear to give the gangs reasons to commit more violence. Having nowhere else to go, minors are making the choice to travel to the U.S. in hopes of finding a new life.

People deserve to live in a place where they can pursue their dreams and are relatively safe from harm. Talking to an immigration attorney in Southern California may help people gain a better understanding of their rights and their options.

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