The huge wave of families and unaccompanied children arriving in South Texas from Central America has ignited a debate on how to best dissuade the influx.
Many have proposed managing the problem at the border by beefing up the Border Patrol with more agents. Some have even called for the National Guard to be sent in as a stopgap measure. A case could be made for modest staffing increases to the Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley, where the number of overall unauthorized migrant apprehensions has more than doubled since 2011, but it is important to note that adding more boots on the ground would do little or nothing to stem the flow of children across the border. The real solutions lie in addressing the push factors in the source countries.
The reason the solution is not at the border is simple. The child migrants are actively turning themselves in to the Border Patrol and are therefore not deterred by a large U.S. government presence along the border. On the contrary, they seek out the Border Patrol, which turns them over to the Department of Health and Human Services. Health and Human Services in most cases then releases the children into the custody of family members.