The wave of illegals now flooding into the U.S will keep growing — and keep causing harm to Central American children — until the president starts leading a response, according to a White House immigration adviser.
“There’s a lack of leadership here… [but eventually] the president will become involved because he can’t avoid it,” said Rev. Richard Ryscavage, who serves on the White House immigration advisory panel.
That wave is building fast, and is already likely to be 50 percent larger by October than officials predicted one week ago, according to a leaked administration memo.
Officials hid the fast-growing migration crisis from the media because they’re still trying to pass a very unpopular immigration rewrite, said Ryscavage, who is a member of a new White House panel that was established last week by Obama to help deal with the wave of youth immigrants.
“That’s the [administration’s] priority — to get that Senate-type bill passed,” said Ryscavage, who is the director of the Fairfield University’s Center for Faith and Public Life.
“To be frank, they tried to hide this problem for a while” to minimize opposition to the Senate bill, he said. “They didn’t do did anything in public about it, they didn’t want to tell anyone about it… [and] they’re now in stage where they’re feeling ‘We have to figure out a strategy.’”
“That’s what the administration is most afraid of — that it will derail any discussion of reform of the immigration laws,” he said.
But Obama’s effort to hide the problem is endangering many Latino children as they travel northwards though Mexico, through gangs and corrupt cops, Ryscavage warned.
Obama’s inactivity “is a very dangerous thing [because] the children are at serious risk and are going to be harmed by this [political] process,” Ryscavage said.
“At least for the next year, I don’t see any stopping the flow [because] nothing has been done substantially to stop the flow,” Ryscavage stated.
Obama and his deputies may not want to stop the wave, warned Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Obama created the wave when Latin-Americans saw him relaxing border enforcement while he was trying to woo Latino voters for the 2012 campaign, Krikorian told TheDC.
These days, Obama doesn’t want to alienate Latino voters before the November election, and he doesn’t want to jeopardize his reach for a massive immigration rewrite, he said.
The Senate immigration bill would double the annual inflow of low-wage guest-workers and Democratic-leaning immigrants to roughly 4 million, which is similar to the number of Americans who turn 18 each year.
In 2015, Obama may not act because he’ll be preparing for the 2016 presidential election, Krikorian said. “The only way this [flood] can be halted is changing our own [lax border] policies… [and] they want to avoid doing that,” partly because the Democratic Party’s progressive and Latino activists wants an open border, he commented.
The wave of immigrants, Ryscavage said, is being pushed by brutal conditions in Central America, and by the widespread belief that Obama’s agencies are letting people settle in the United States. “There’s the pull factor… they can get a better life here,” he stated.
One week ago, on June 3, White House officials asked Congress for an extra $1.4 billion to help process and settle the 60,000 supposedly unaccompanied minor immigrants who were expected to arrive in the 12 months up to October.
That number is ten times the 6,000 who crossed in 2011.
But a leaked estimate by a top official in the Department of Homeland Security says the 12-month inflow will reach 90,000 by October, and then grow by another 142,000 in the next 12 months before October 2015.
The four-page memo was drafted by Ronald Vitiello, the deputy chief in the Office of Border Patrol, and federal coordinator for Unaccompanied Alien Children. It was sent to White House’s Interagency Policy Committee on Unaccompanied Alien Children, and is dated May 30.
The bulk of the new migrants are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, partly because border officials immediately send most Mexican border-crossers back over the border.
Almost one in five of the 28 million people living in the three Central American countries would like to migrate to the United States, according to a 2013 Gallup survey. That adds up to a potential inflow of five million people from just three countries, assuming the flow is not augmented by roughly 130 million people in other countries that Gallup estimates wish to live in the United States.
The crisis is an opportunity for Republicans, Ryscavage said.
For their own political self-interest, “the Republicans have to show that they are concerned about the people who coming to this country from these Latin nations,” he said. The easy option for them is to support a new program that would aid the weak governments and impoverished people of the Central American countries before they head north, he said.
The “countries need to get help and reform, and I think Republicans can push for that approach,” even though their business wing wants cheap labor in the United States, he said.
“If the Republicans play this right, and they probably will, they’re going to say ‘We sympathize with the kids, we blame the administration,’” Krikorian said.
“It doesn’t take a lot of political savvy on the part of Republicans to make people know how problematic this [wave] is,” he added.
A long-running Pew poll shows that roughly 70 percent of swing-voters want tougher immigration rules.
A July 2013 poll showed considerable opposition by established U.S. Latino voters to large-scale illegal immigration. Fifty-nine percent of registered Latino voters said the nation should have a goal of “stopping 90 percent of the undocumented immigration in the future,” according to the poll by John McLaughlin.
White House officials — including Cecilia Munoz and John Podesta — insist the migrants are minors who are fleeing gangs and parental beatings. The flood is a humanitarian disaster that requires support for the migrants once they cross the border, not for tighter border security that excludes the migrants, they said.
But multiple reports from the border quote parents who say they are seeking a better life for their children in the United States, and are not fleeing brutal men.
“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. “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.,
Even the New York Times has recognized the immigrants’ calculations. “Like so many others across Central America, Robin [Tulio, a 13-year old] 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,” with her in Baltimore, where she works as a domestic servant, according to a June 4 Times article.
The migrants say they are being helped by the Department of Homeland Security to settle in the United States, despite the post-2008 economic crisis that has shrunk the share of employed Americans to the lowest level since Jimmy Carter was president.
Millions of older Americans have given up looking for work, and millions of younger Americans can’t get a decent job to start a family or buy a house. Roughly one in eight American men — or 10 million men — between 25 and 54 do not have full-time jobs, partly because the country imported 10 million guest-workers and 13 million immigrants from 2000 to 2013.
Yet Edilberto Lanza Mejia, a 26-year-old from Honduras, told the Houston Chronicle that DHS officials had given him “a permit to enter the United States.” He crossed the border with his wife and their three young children, all of whom are now free to attend U.S. schools until Obama’s agencies decide to formally deport them.
In El Paso, Texas, a reporter met with a Guatemalan woman named Maria who was traveling with her two daughters via bus to Tennessee to live with her sister. She said DHS officials arranged for their transport to Tennessee, adding “Immigration told me, ‘You are free, you can leave,'” according to the El Paso Times. “I’m a little scared,” Maria told the reporter in Spanish. “Now, we are here without money.”
Spanish-language media have detailed Obama’s policies of letting adults with children enter the country, and so a growing number of Latin American people have heard they and their children will be welcomed.
In 2013, Obama only allowed officials to deport a mere 0.2 percent of the 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States who had not also broken other laws. This month, he announced plans to renew a 2012 youth-amnesty that has already awarded work permits to more than 540,000 illegal immigrants.
Ryscavage isn’t hopeful that Obama and his deputies will take quick action to deter the migration out of Central America.
“What’s our main strategy here? How do we deal with this on a broader level that can actually have an impact? That I’m not seeing [because] there is a tremendous amount of political context for discussing this,” amid efforts to pass the Senate immigration bill through the House, he said.
“It is not helpful,” he added.