Sometimes when you read an article in the news, a statistic jumps out at you and you wonder if it could possibly be true. That was the case when I was reading an online article from the Loudoun Times in Loudon, Virginia. The article tells the story of a 13 year old Boy Scout who is about to be deported back to El Salvador. He had entered the country illegally about 3 years ago to join his mother, who is a Salvadoran legally working and residing in Virginia. The article is another tale of how immigration laws can separate families and is worth reading.
The statistic in the article which jumped out at me was this one:
Over 88 percent of the children who are apprehended across the border come from El Salvador.
The paper had not checked its facts very well. A report of the Congressional Research Service, stated that 85 percent of the approximately 7750 children in US custody in 2006 for immigration violations come from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras. But this does not count the approximately 94,000 children apprehended from Mexico who were immediately "voluntarily" returned to Mexico. So the correct figure would appear to be something less than 5% of the children apprehended are from El Salvador, not 88%.
Even with the percentage corrected, it is obviously troubling that the US is holding 7750 children in detention facilities for immigration violations. An April 2008 report from the VERA Institute of Justice gives an overview of problems impacting the detention and processing of these juveniles. This may have something to do with the fact that the United States is the only United Nations member country other than Somalia which has not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.