After declaring the surge of Central American migrants crossing the border a humanitarian crisis, the Obama administration has shifted to a strategy of deterrence, moving families to isolated facilities and placing them on a fast track for deportation to send a blunt message back home that those caught entering illegally will not be permitted to stay, says the New York Times. In a far corner of the New Mexico desert, in the town of Artesia, more than 600 women and children are being held in an emergency detention center that opened in June. Last Friday, officials began filling up a new center in Karnes City, Tx., for up to 532 adults and children, and they are adding beds to a center for families in Pennsylvania that now holds about 95 people.
Most of the debate over the illegal influx has centered on 57,000 unaccompanied minors apprehended since October. The number of minors with parents has increased even faster, nearly tripling to more than 22,000 so far this year from about 8,500 in all of 2013, says the Pew Research Center. More than 40,000 adults and their children, an unprecedented number, were caught along the southwest border, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Until recently, most families were released to remain in the U.S. while their deportation cases moved slowly through the courts. That policy fueled rumors in Central America that if parents arrived with young children, they would be given permits to stay. To stop such talk, officials are moving swiftly to expand family detention.