The U.S. started a new wave of expedited deportations on Monday by flying 38 women and children back to Honduras. The group consisted of 21 children between the ages of 18 months and 15 years, and 17 female family members, according to The Financial Times. “These are people who are coming with broken hearts and shattered dreams,” the first lady of Honduras, Ana García de Hernández, said as she welcomed the group back.
The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that this is "just the initial wave," and that future deportations to Central America will follow "based on the results of removal proceedings or expedited removal," according to The Wall Street Journal. According to The Times, 40 Guatemalans and 40 Salvadoran immigrants were also on Monday's flight, and 80 more Honduran immigrants could be sent home on Friday.
In Honduras, the welcome home event was part of a larger publicity push to discourage residents from making the dangerous journey to the United States. García de Hernández noted that while the returned women were crying, they "were happy to be home, and 80 per cent had said they would not be trying again," according to The Times. But the actual migrants were less optimistic. “We could see on their faces that this is a defeat, not a triumph,” a Unicef spokesman told The Times. Dalia García told Unicef that she paid a coyote, or smuggler, $7,000 to guide her and her 6-year-old daughter to the United States. García was also upset with the conditions for migrants in the processing facilities. She said mothers had to sleep standing up holding their children in cramped cells.
Since October, more than 57,000 migrant children have been detained at the U.S./Mexico border. In the wake of that surge, lawmakers have proposed several plans to address both the humanitarian situation of the children and illegal immigration issue. President Obama requested $3.7 billion from Congress to add immigration judges and speed up deportations, and a bipartisan bill drafted by Texas lawmakers would change a 2008 law to allow for faster deportations.
As The Washington Post explained, the bill would require immigration cases to be heard within seven days and decided upon within three days. It would also allow for 40 new immigration judges. The White House has been noncommittal on the bill, other that to say they "would welcome constructive engagement from Republicans," as Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during a Monday briefing.