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Children's asylum approvals vary by US region

Published:Friday | June 3, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Detained immigrant children line up in the cafeteria at the Karnes County Residential Center, a temporary home for immigrant women and children detained at the border in Karnes City, Texas, last year September.


For unaccompanied immigrant children seeking asylum in the US, where they apply seems to make a world of difference.

Youngsters whose applications are handled by the US government's regional offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles are far more likely to win approval from asylum officers than those applying in Chicago or Houston, according to data obtained by The Associated Press under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The figures offer a snapshot of how the government is handling the huge surge over the past two years in the number of Central American children arriving at the US-Mexico border unaccompanied by adults. Tens of thousands of youngsters, many of them fleeing gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, have overflowed US shelters and further clogged the nation's overwhelmed immigration courts.

Under federal law, these children can apply to remain in the country in a process that involves an interview with an asylum officer from one of US Citizenship and Immigration Services' eight regional offices. To win their cases, they must show that they have been persecuted or are in danger of persecution.