Maryland Morning
9:00 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Why Unaccompanied Children From Central America Are Crossing The U.S. Border

The U.S./Mexico border at Nogales, AZ.
The U.S./Mexico border at Nogales, AZ.
Credit Ryan Bavetta / Flickr / Creative Commons
An estimated 57,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America have crossed the border into the United States since last fall. Maryland is more than 1,700 miles from the Mexican border, but the state has a strong connection with one of the Central American countries: more foreign-born Marylanders have come from El Salvador than any other country. Many of them are concentrated in Langley Park, at the northwest edge of Prince Georges County between College Park and Silver Spring.The "Unaccompanied Alien Children Program," part of the U.S. Department of Human Service, reports that during the first six months of this year, about 2,200 unaccompanied alien children came to Maryland.  Sponsors in the state took responsibility for them.

Joining Sheilah to explain how the system works and give some ideas about how it should work now that so many unaccompanied children have shown up is Molly McGrath-Tierney, former director of Baltimore City’s Department of Social Services, now a management consultant. With us by phone is Bill McCarthy, director of Catholic Charities of the Baltimore Archdiocese, which has been in the news lately for offering to house about 50 unaccompanied children at St. Vincent's Villa in Timonium.

Then, we talk with Salvadoran reporter Hector Silva Avalos about what’s driving Central American children to enter the United States. He's a research fellow at American University's Center for Latin American and Latino Studies. He’s also a former Deputy Chief of Mission at the Salvadoran Embassy in Washington.