The administration will pay roughly 100 American lawyers to help a growing wave of young illegal immigrants settle in the United States.
The new group, dubbed “justice AmericaCorps,” will “protect the rights of the most vulnerable members of society … particularly young people who must appear in immigration proceedings,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a Friday afternoon announcement.
“AmeriCorps members will provide critical support for these [border crossing] children, many of whom are escaping abuse, persecution or violence,” according to Wendy Spencer, head of AmeriCorps’ parent group, the Corporation for National and Community Service.
Officials expect up to 60,000 foreign youths, children, mothers and fathers to cross the border in the 12 months up to October. In the same period in 2011, roughly 6,000 youths crossed the border.
The inflow is expected to spike up to 130,000 in 2015, and higher if President Barack Obama in 2016 doesn’t try to deter the inflow during the 2014 or 2016 campaigns.
Obama is not expected to block the inflow before the 2014 election, when he will need a high turnout of Latinos to keep the Senate in Democratic hands.
Once caught, Mexicans are immediately sent back across the border into Mexico. But officials are actually release children, youths and mothers from countries that don’t share a border with the United States, such as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Officials are also providing non-Mexican migrants with food, temporary shelter plus transport to bus stations, and help in contacting relatives or friends living legally or illegally in the United States.
The 100 lawyers and paralegals in “justice AmeriCorps” are expected to provide legal advice to help the immigrants get past legal hurdles and into the United States.
For example, the migrants are more likely to be released if they say they’re not Mexicans, if they say they’re younger than 18, if they say they have parents in the United States, and if they say they’re fleeing violence, either from gangs or from fathers.
Once released, the migrants are free to settle in American communities, to attend Americans’ schools while the youths and mothers are able to seek work in the economy, which already employes roughly eight million illegal immigrants.
U.S. officials say the released illegals are required to report to U.S. courts for subsequent deportation. But officials also say that they are focusing all their efforts on higher priority illegal immigrants, such as drug smugglers and gang members.
The top-level policy has persuaded many illegal immigrants that the administration will welcome their arrival.
In 2013, for example, less than 0.2 percent of the almost 12 million illegals living in the U.S. were deported.
This week, the president announced he would renew his “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program, which awards two-year work permits to illegals who are younger than 30. Since the program was announced during the 2012 campaign, roughly 560,000 have been given work permits.
That total is roughly equal to one-third of all new jobs created in 2013.
Spanish-language media has detailed Obama’s policies, and so a growing number of Latin American people have heard they and their children will be welcomed.
“I brought her here because I know this is a better future for her,” said one migrant mother from Guatemala who successfully crossed the border in Texas this week with her six year-old daughter.
“I need to act right now, because this [welcome policy] will end and my girl won’t have a future,’” Nora Griselda Bercian Diaz, told KRGV-TV, in Weslaco, Texas.
The New York Times has also detailed the migrants’ motives. ”13-year-old Robin Tulio was finally heading to the border to be with his mother [who is a] maid, living illegally in Baltimore, [who] had decided the time was right to smuggle her son into the United States,” according to a June 4 New York Times article.
“Like so many others across Central America, Robin said his mother believed that the Obama administration had quietly changed its policy regarding unaccompanied minors and that if he made it across, he would have a better shot at staying,” said the article.
A U.N. report said that 82 percent of the minors that they interviewed in Guatemala, and 80 percent of minors in Honduras, admitted that they headed north in search of work, free schools and family unification.
White House officials say they are treating the wave of illegal immigrants as a humanitarian crisis that should be treated with more aid and lawyers, not border police.
“What’s driving this is what’s happening in their home counties, in particular, violence and fear and poor economic conditions,” claimed Cecilia Munoz, Obama’s top domestic policy aide.
The border crossing is “a heartbreaking situation,” top White House counselor John Podesta said Friday. The migrants are fleeing violence in central America by seeking to join their relatives in the United States, he said.
“It’s another reason why I think we need to reform the [immigration] system,” Podesta added.
Officials are welcoming the wave of migrants as roughly four million American 18-year-olds graduate from high schools or colleges in search of decent jobs.
Younger Americans are the least likely to be be employed in the slack economy.
They face job competition from many unemployed Americans, plus the roughly 600,000 working-age immigrants and 800,000 guest workers that arrive each year.