Local legal experts weigh in on influx of migrant children

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – The U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote this week on a measure that would protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, as well as provide legal status to farm workers.

The move comes as the Biden administration plans on sending FEMA agents to the Southern border to care for massive influxes of unaccompanied migrant children who are being held in detention centers.

Chattanooga immigration attorney Terry Olsen says that due to a law under President Trump known as Title 42, unaccompanied migrant children had to remain outside of the U.S. due to COVID restrictions first and then put through a process before being admitted to the country.

But now with President Biden in office, that law has been rescinded.

He says that this has led to the influx of migrant children coming across the border, and due to COVID protocols in these detention centers, the process is being delayed.

“You have had an uptick in terms of the amount of children applying but that’s because they were also delayed for the last month or two or three months because of these policies so now it’s up by almost 30 percent and what’s also happened in terms of COVID that you weren’t allowed to have the same amount of beds in the shelter served to kids.”

Brittany Faith, another Chattanooga-based immigration expert, says that this is a situation that has occurred multiple times over the last few years.

“There have been several times where this has happened previously so in 2014 this happened with the Obama administration but this also happened in the Trump administration in 2018 and 2019. And a lot of that surge doesn’t necessarily come from our political process, but a lot of it comes from what’s happening in their home countries.”

Both political parties have made attempts at immigration reform over the last several decades, but no legislative efforts have been successfully passed into law.

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