The count is up to 5,000. That is the number of unaccompanied children who have made their way into the United States, most of them from Central America.
As the fighting continues over what to do about the massive influx of undocumented women and children, a delegation of California lawmakers is heading south to learn more about what can be done to stop it. Six state law makers departed Sacramento on Monday, including East Bay State Senator Ellen Corbett.
The legislators will be visiting leaders in El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama over nine days. While the trip has been planned for some time – in an attempt to further relations between California and those countries – the goals have changed a bit since the crisis began.
The detainees, most of them unaccompanied children, are overflowing detention centers. They mostly report that their home countries are plagued with violence and they fear for their lives if they were to stay.
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told reporters Monday morning that he hopes to speak to Central American leaders about what can be done. He said the children especially should not be demonized.
"When it comes to children, I often say 'a kid is a kid, is a kid.' No matter what their immigration status,” Steinberg said. “We need to make sure we recognize their plight and help them and try and understand why they are choosing to make this often life-threatening journey. It's because they want a better life."
The trip also comes as the first round of undocumented women and children are in the process of being returned to their native Honduras. Forty of those detainees left a detention center in New Mexico to board a plane to head home. Immigration advocates are pushing for those detainees to be granted at least temporary refugee or asylum status.
Meanwhile, the number of women and children in detention centers is expected to reach 90,000 by September.