People wait outside an aid center in Nogales, Mexico that serves people who have been recently deported to Mexico, November 11, 2010.
Eric Thayer / Courtesy Reuters

This summer, as thousands of women and children fled El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico for the United States, policymakers and pundits quarreled over the origins of, and solutions to, the crisis. One camp focused on the factors that pushed people from their homelands: pervasive violence, entrenched poverty, and the failure of comprehensive immigration reform to allow families living on opposite sides of the border to reunite legally. Another blamed those factors that pull people north: lax enforcement of immigration policies and the (erroneous) impression that newly arrived unaccompanied minors would be entitled to stay in the United States under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The Obama administration, fearing the political fallout from being branded as too lenient on immigration, decided to send a clear message—that those crossing the southwestern border would be sent back home. For now, many of them still await processing

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  • LAUREN CARASIK is Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the International Human Rights Clinic at Western New England University School of Law.
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