The Immigration Mess

A surge of Central American refugees finds the U.S. unprepared

Brownsville, Texas. Weary yet hopeful, their bodies battered but their spirits high, the families while away the hours at the Casa Romero shelter for Central American refugees. They line up for a lunch of rice and beans, served from steaming kettles; they mop the floors and shoot pool; they practice English phrases; and they wait. And wait.

When they learn that their applications for political asylum in the U.S. are finally about to be dealt with, they trek to a makeshift Immigration and Naturalization Service post at the newly opened Port Isabel Processing Center, 25 miles away. Two weeks ago, angry...

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