Homeland Security Seretary Jeh Johnson strongly hinted July 6 that the growing wave of Central American youths and children — including many children who are accompanied by their mothers — will be allowed to stay in the United States.
The signal came in response to a question from David Gregory, host of NBC’s “Meet The Press,” who asked, “Is the priority… to do right by these children? Or do we have to find a way to clamp down on the border?”
“Well, there’s the issue,” Johnson admitted.
“We have to do right by the children,” Johnson said, presumably referring to Central American children.
“I have personally encountered enough of them to know that we have to do right by the children,” he continued, before acknowledging that he and President Barack Obama are supposed to guard the nation’s borders.
“At the end of the day, in the final analysis, our border is not open to illegal migration. And we will stem the tide,” he said, without explaining how he can stem the tide of migrants if the U.S. government’s duty is to “do right by the [Central American] children.”
Officials do not know how many youths and children will try to cross during the next year. One June estimate, however, predicted the number would be 90,000 by October.
Officials admit that 50,000 unaccompanied youths and kids have crossed the border so far this year. Obama’s agencies have delivered 85 percent of those 50,000 children and youths to relatives living in the United States. Another 240,000 adults and children have also crossed the border, and many are being transported by the federal government to the cities where they want to live.
All the border-crossers are being giving a permit to live in the United States, until a court decides whether they can stay. However, immigration experts and legislators predict the vast majority of border-crossers will either be allowed to stay or will hide from immigration police.
Americans strongly oppose illegal immigration, and numerous polls shows that Americans want less legal immigration – although they also praise immigrants. American Latinos are also split on the issue, partly because many worry that large-scale illegal immigration will hurt their wages, neighborhoods, children and social status.
So far, most of the border-crossing migrant youths are arriving from three Central American countries: Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Their combined population is roughly 30 million, of which roughly 40 percent are younger than 20. That’s an estimated population 12 million children —- infants, kids and youths — which Johnson said the U.S. must “do right by.”
That total is equal to all American youths aged 15, 16 and 17.
Many of the border-crossers do not speak English, but instead Spanish or a variety of American Indian languages. In Guatemala, for example, 40 percent of the population is American Indian. In Honduras, roughly 7 percent of the population is American Indian.
Most are unskilled. In Honduras, for example, only 40 percent of the population has graduated from primary school. In Guatemala, roughly 25 percent of the population is illiterate.
Johnson’s July 6 statement on “Meet The Press” matches a July 12 statement by Johnson: “Family unification for a child is something that is critical, so I want to see every child with a parent who is able to take care of him, and the law requires we do what is in the best interest of the child, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Last October, when Obama announced he would nominated Johnson to run DHS, Johnson told Obama and the listening media that “I care about the safety of our people. I believe in public service. And I remain loyal to you, Mr. President.”