President Barack Obama has quietly moved to slow the huge wave of Central American illegal immigrants, two days after Hillary Clinton called for the migrants to be deported back home.
Obama asked Mexico’s president, in a June 19 afternoon call, to intercept the Central American women and children before they reach the Texas border, and to crack down on Mexico’s human smuggling industry.
Obama “discussed the United States and Mexico’s shared responsibility for promoting security in both countries and in the region,” said a White House statement released Thursday evening.
He “welcomed Mexico’s efforts to help target the criminals that lure families to send children on the dangerous journey and to alert potential migrants to the perils of the journey and the likelihood that they will be returned to Central America.”
The non-televised statement is a cautious way for the president to signal to the American public — and to Central American governments — that he wants to slow down the post-2010 wave, which is expected to deposit roughly 300,000 low-skill illegal immigrants in Texas by October.
It complements an effort by Vice President Joe Biden, who is expected to meet June 20 with top officials of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to ask for their help in slowing the inflow.
The wave has been dubbed the “Dream Deluge,” because it is believed to be caused in part by Obama’s campaign-trail decision in June 2012 to offer work permits to 560,000 younger illegals living in the United States. Latino advocates describe the younger illegals as “Dreamers.”
Once across the border, the adult illegals will compete for jobs against Americans and recent immigrants, while younger Spanish-speaking illegals will be given places in often-crowded and sub-standard U.S. schools.
Obama said in the statement that the current wave of illegal immigrants would not be eligible for the 2012 amnesty, or for legalization through immigration reform legislation that has passed the Senate. But Obama has shown a willingness to unilaterally change immigration law to suit his priorities.
So far, Obama minimized his public role in the fast-growing crisis, and has directed his deputies to tacitly aid the migrants.
For example, he has directed his officials to release the borders-crossers from the three Central American states into the United States. Once released, they can seek jobs in the underground economy, and find lawyers to plead for the right to stay in the U.S.
Officials have promised not to arrest the parents of young children who cross the border illegally. Also, Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced a plan to provide taxpayer-funded lawyers to help many immigrants win the right to live in the United States.
U.S. officials have not announced any threats or plans to penalize government officials in the three Central American countries if they don’t try to block the migration.
Obama’s aides are managing the p.r risks by claiming the migrants are needed, that they are refugees fleeing humanitarian disasters in their home countries, and they are not illegal immigrants who should be blocked and quickly deported.
Also, officials such as Jeh Johnson, the director of homeland security, have successfully focused the media’s attention and sympathy on young children who are sent across the border — and away from Americans who will be hurt by the inflow. But only about 6 percent of the border-crossers are unaccompanied children aged 14 or below.
Border-crossers from Mexico are being returned when they’re caught.
Obama’s catch-and-release tactic has allowed him to minimize likely damage from public opposition to the huge inflow of illegals.
It also maximizes his gain from Latino advocacy groups, which welcome the inflow of new people that they claim to represent. The inflow of Central American migrants is a benefit for the ethnic leaders, who have largely given up hope that Obama could push the GOP to pass an immigration-boosting amnesty deal through the House this year.
But on June 17, Clinton complicated Obama’s strategy by deliberately urging Obama to deport the children.
“They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who the responsible adults in their families are,” she said in a CNN interview.
“There are concerns about whether all of them should be sent back, but I think all of them who can be should be reunited with their families,” she told a surprised CNN host, Christiane Amanpour.
“We have to send a clear message: Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay… we don’t want to send a message that is contrary to our laws, or [that] will encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.”
The wave has been building rapidly since 2011, but it accelerated when Obama rolled back enforcement, enacted a two-year amnesty for youths in 2012, and called for passage of an amnesty and guest-worker bill in 2013 and 2014.
Roughly one-third of the Central American inflow are “unaccompanied minors,” although more than 80 percent of the minors are 15 or older.
Roughly 50 percent of the border-crossers may win permission to stay, said one U.S. advocate for the migrants.