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    These Are Children, Not Bad Hombres

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    Last year 7-year-old Kendra Cruz Garcia and her 10-year-old-brother, Roberto Guardado Cruz, crossed the Rio Grande alone. When their tiny boat reached the shore, they started walking into Texas.

    The Border Patrol agents who soon caught the Salvadoran siblings deemed them “unaccompanied” because no parent was with them. Children with this designation are granted special, well-deserved protections.

    They aren’t subject to quick deportation and are entitled to a full hearing before an immigration judge. They can’t be held for long periods in immigration jails. Instead, they are transferred to child-friendly shelters operated by Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, and released, usually within a month, to a parent, relative or sponsor while their court hearings proceed. Instead of facing cross-examination by adversarial prosecutors, children are interviewed by an asylum officer trained to gently probe whether they qualify to stay in the country legally.

    In other words, they are treated with kindness and decency by our government because they are innocent children.