[JURIST] The Obama administration [official website] on Friday announced [press release] that it would boost the ranks of immigration judges, lawyers and asylum officers to decrease the flow of undocumented children into the country. According to homeland security deputy director Alejandro Mayorkas [official profile], 52,000 unaccompanied children arrived on the US border with Mexico between October of 2013 and June of 2014. By increasing the capacity to detain individuals and adults with children, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] will be able to return unlawful migrants from Central America in a quicker fashion. Officials also announced $9.6 million in additional support to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to help receive and reintegrate people who are sent back. In an effort to address the cause of flight from Central America, the Obama administration said it would launch a $40 million program to improve security in Guatemala, and a $25 million program to provide youth services in El Salvador, where children are vulnerable to organized crime. It was also announced that Vice President Joe Biden [official profile] will be meeting with regional leaders in Guatemala to address the rise in the flow of unaccompanied children and adults with their children to the US, to discuss work with the countries of Central America, and to discuss efforts to help address the underlying security and economic issues that cause migration.
There have been many recent developments surrounding US immigration law [JURIST backgrounder], which has been a controversial subject over the past several years. Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act [INA] does not automatically grant relief to all aliens who qualify as "child" derivative beneficiaries at the time a visa petition is filed but age out of qualification by the time the visa becomes available to the primary beneficiary. In April the US Department of Justice released statistics [JURIST report] that show a steady decline in new deportation cases brought by the Obama administration in US immigration courts over the last five years, and that more judges have begun ruling against deportations. In November Obama issued a memorandum [JURIST report] giving US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the authority to "parole in place" the children, spouses and parents of active duty members of the armed forces, the selected reserve of the ready reserve and former members thereof. In October Obama signed into law [JURIST report] a bill granting special immigration status to Iraqis who have aided US forces. In September a judge in Washington state ruled [JURIST report] that local enforcement officers cannot extend detention of individuals to question them about their immigration status. In May the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] of Georgia reported [JURIST report] that undocumented immigrants face constitutional and human rights violations in Georgia detention centers. In September 2011 the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that immigrants who are imprisoned while fighting deportation cannot be held indefinitely [JURIST report] without a bail hearing and that the government must justify the need for the prolonged detention.