WASHINGTON (AP) — Thousands of immigrant children are fleeing poverty and violence in Central America and crossing alone into the United States.
They can live in American cities, attend public schools and possibly work in the U.S. for years without consequences.
An Associated Press investigation finds two main reasons.
One is an overburdened and deeply flawed system of immigration courts.
The second is a 2002 law that's intended to protect children's welfare.
And what's driving the dramatic increases in these immigrants?
There's a recognition throughout Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that children who make the dangerous trip can effectively remain in the U.S. for years before facing even a moderate risk of deportation.