MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It’s a rush like we haven’t seen before.
Tens of thousands of children from Central American countries are the border illegally into the United States.
“The reason we think there is a surge in women and children coming across the border is because the violence in Central American countries,” said Memphis immigration lawyer, Barry Frager with the Frager Law Firm.
Frager started out in immigration law deporting families, but for the last 15 years in Memphis, he’s worked to help them stay.
He’s hoping many of these children can find permanent safety in the Mid-South.
“They are grateful for the rest of our lives,” said Frager.
About 760 children are right here in Tennessee.
Frager says the children will go before federal immigration judges in Memphis to see if they can stay in the Land of the Free.
“We don’t want to send these people back to harm or possibly death. We have to give them an opportunity to have due process rights and figure out who may be in danger,” said Frager.
The 760 children sent here this year by the Obama administration were done so without warning, which prompted Governor Bill Haslam to send a letter to President Obama.
Haslam wants to know why the state, like many others, was not notified the minors were sent here.
Those who were sent here will live in Tennessee with family members until their court hearing, which may take a while.
Right now, there are only two judges in Memphis who handle all the immigration cases in Tennessee and Arkansas, half of the cases in Mississippi and even some in Kentucky.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve had a crisis in our court. Our numbers have been high for a long time,” said Frager.
Frager estimates the 760 minor cases will take priority over 6000 backlogged cases.
Frager, who also lobbies for immigration reform, says hosting hundreds of these border immigrant children will cause other strains on the state.
Many of the minros may have to appear in juvenile court if they’ve been neglected.
Homeland security investigators may also spend their time looking into their backgrounds.
Two new immigrations judges are expected in Memphis this fall to help with this case load.
They were scheduled to come before this latest influx of immigrants.
There are so many cases in immigration court, the court is moving from the federal building to Brinkley Plaza in October.