Immigration issues are not my thing, but I am exasperated by the politicization of the current crisis by all of the parties involved. Plus, the kids from Central America are showing up on the border, which is in my own neighborhood.
The current crisis is clearly not of the current administration’s making; it is being faulted for not reacting fast enough and effectively enough to a situation that was set up by the former administration—all the while being denied the resources it needs to deal with the crisis by the Republicans. Disingenuous, to say the least.
Obama has requested nearly $4 billion to deal with the crisis, while Congress will equivocate and avoid dealing with the situation by arguing about the price-tag of doing so. All the while, the crisis will only worsen and benefit the unstated (and secret) agenda of the Republicans to maintain illegal immigration and thereby suppress wages in the US.
This is an immediate situation that is no less controllable than a destructive storm hitting one of our ocean coasts. The suddenness of the crisis is suggested by a look at the numbers over the last several years:
This crisis is being fomented by outside forces including the governments of Mexico and Central America. In a stunning development a week ago, Mexican President Nieto and Guatemalan President Molina announced cooperation on getting Central American refugees through Mexico and into the US.
Both presidents held a joint press conference in Playas de Catazaja, Mexico, to officially announce an agreement to make it easier for those making the illegal journey to the United States from Central America, to cross into Mexico. The Southern Border Program to Improve Passage will provide for more border checkpoints along Mexico’s border with Guatemala, and offer more protection and even emergency medical care to those making their way north. The illegal aliens will even receive a so-called Regional Visitor’s Card.
Officially, the program will grant the cards to only illegal aliens from Guatemala and Belize, allowing them to remain in Mexico’s southern states for 72 hours (more than enough time to reach the US/Mexican border by train). While those two countries share a border with Mexico, the program will undoubtedly benefit anyone who makes it to the border, which would explain why our Border Patrol stations are currently overflowing with illegal aliens from El Salvador and Honduras as well.
We are told these outside forces encouraging illegal immigration also include non-governmental entities including migrant smugglers (looking to make a profit off their desperate clientele) who are making false promises and actually advertising the message that now is the time to take advantage of the current inability of the US government to repulse the flood of immigrants. It is the immigration equivalent of Denial Of Service attacks by computer hackers.
This is unconscionable. The hardships which the children endure in their long trek through Mexico are serious, indeed. Once they get here, the conditions these children are being kept in are far from ideal, and critics are calling the warehouses where many are being held tantamount to government-sponsored child abuse. Yet the kids continue to arrive, filling up facilities faster than officials can open them.
In South Texas, where the bulk of the surge is coming through, more than 1,600 youths have filled up 13 shelters. Federal officials have also opened temporary facilities to deal with the overflow at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio TX, in Ventura CA, and in Fort Sill OK.
One key difference the recent arrivals are displaying from their predecessors is that they’re not bothering to sneak deeper into Texas, opting instead to turn themselves in and allow US policy toward immigrant youth decide their fate. Current US policy allows youngsters from Central American countries other than Mexico to be released to an adult living in the US while awaiting their court hearing. Mexican youth are returned to an agency in that country.
As a result, while the children are crossing over from Mexico, they are predominantly from Central American countries including Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
Vice president Joe Biden was south of the border in June, talking with leaders of several Central American nations to make it clear that these children may not stay permanently if they are caught by the border patrol. The White House is offering financial aid to get them back home. The president was in Texas last week, but declined to visit the border, where the Republicans would only have used his presence on the border against him.
Meanwhile, Department of Homeland Security Chief Jeh Johnson was in Texas, along with several high-ranking officials, to see for themselves the chaos at the border protection facilities.
The dimensions of this crisis are greater than generally acknowledged. The Department of Homeland Security appears to have low-balled its estimates of the number of unaccompanied alien children it’s publicly claiming will arrive in the US during the fiscal year of 2014.
DHS claimed in its most recent budget proposal that current trends lead it to estimate 60,000 unaccompanied alien children (UACs) will cross illegally this year. A closer look at DHS’s own numbers, however, shows that at the end of May a total of 47,017 had already arrived. If this trend continues, the numbers could exceed 100,000 by the end of the year.
Indeed, in early June a news agency leaked an internal draft memo from deputy chief of Border Patrol Ronald D. Vitiello that revealed the DHS expects UAC apprehensions in 2014 to be about 90,100 and in 2015 to number 142,000. Vitiello’s memo stated that government policies are creating incentives for illegal minors to cross the border. The memo appears to be an internal draft working document, and was neither signed nor made official. Yet it suggests what may be really going on.
President Obama referred to the unaccompanied immigrant children as presenting an “urgent humanitarian situation.” It would be cynical in the extreme for anyone to use this crisis for political gain.
In Washington’s highly-polarized atmosphere, I wouldn’t put it past anyone. In fact, it’s already happening.