You might have seen the images of thousands of people detained at the United States' southern border in the past few months. Many of them are kids traveling from Central America alone or with family. They want to live in the United States but don't have permission to do so.
Because of a law, some of them have been released and allowed to live with family already in the United States while the government decides whether to let them stay or deport them (send them back to home).
Americans disagree on how many immigrants, or people who come from other countries, should be allowed to come to the United States and stay. Immigration is a complicated issue. It's about numbers, but it's also about people.
Wendy, an 11-year-old, is one of those people. She came to the United States with her parents and an older sister in May. It took them one month to travel about 1,500 miles from their home in a small village in El Salvador to the U.S.-Mexican border. They traveled by foot, bus and car, and crossed the Rio Grande - the river that divides Mexico and Texas - on a raft.
"I was afraid I was going to drown," said Wendy, who now lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. The entire trip was long and scary, she said. Wendy and her family spoke with KidsPost on the condition that their last name not be used.
Along the journey, the family split up, and Wendy crossed the border with only her father. They surrendered to U.S. Border Patrol officers and were taken to an immigrant processing center in McAllen, Texas. There, Wendy was taken from her father and placed in a big, windowless room occupied by other immigrant girls and women.
Wendy says she stayed there four days. She had ham and cheese sandwiches and water for dinner. She wasn't able to shower, and one night the room was so crowded that there was no space to lie down to sleep. When she became cold at night, she said, she used aluminum foil as a blanket. During the day, she said, she mostly sat in silence and prayed quietly.
After the fourth day, she said, someone called her name and told her it was time to go.
"I was so happy," she said. "I wanted to see the sunlight."
Wendy was reunited with her father, and their relatives sent money for plane tickets to Washington, D.C.,where their family would host them. Her mother and sister joined them in Maryland in early June, after a similar experience at the border. Wendy's family hopes to get a permit to stay in the country. They have to get an attorney and go before a judge. The process can take a long time. Because they are here illegally, they also could be deported.
Wendy's parents say they took the risk to come from so far away because they didn't earn enough money at home to support the family, and they were afraid of gangs that hurt people and steal their money.
Madeline Taylor Diaz, an attorney with Ayuda, an organization in the D.C. area that helps immigrants, says that people such as Wendy and her parents come here for better jobs, education and freedom. And in recent years, many have come fleeing crime, violence and persecution in their home countries.
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"It is a crisis," said Taylor Diaz. "A lot of people are coming because they are truly afraid of staying back home."
Officials have been debating what should happen to these families.
President Donald Trump and his supporters don't want undocumented immigrants to cross the border until they have the proper documents. They favor building a wall along the Mexican border to keep out undocumented people.
Trump's administration also announced last week a change for those who enter the country illegally. They would be sent back to their countries quickly or sent to Mexico while waiting for the U.S. government to consider their immigration requests.
Acting secretary of homeland security Kevin McAleenan said this will help address the crisis at the border, where immigration centers have been overcrowded for months. And families that don't qualify to stay in the country can go back home more quickly.
"This is a vital step in restoring the rule of law and integrity (honesty) to our immigration system," McAleenan said.
In the past 11 months, U.S. authorities arrested almost 1 million immigrants, nearly double the 2018 total, at the southwest border, which stretches almost 2,000 miles from Southern California to the southern tip of Texas at the Gulf of Mexico. More than 70,000 were children traveling alone.
Taylor Diaz and others think that the United States should welcome immigrants.
"Helping immigrants is like helping our neighbors," Taylor Diaz said. "The kids are just like the kids you go to school with. Treating them fairly is part of the American tradition."
Wendy is adjusting to life in the United States. Her parents are trying to enroll her in school. She likes eating hamburgers and going to a park to swing as high as she can. She had never seen trees change colors in autumn before, and she can't wait to see snow. But she still misses her friends and grandparents.
"They also miss me," she said.