A White House official said the GOP’s refusal to back the unpopular Democrat-drafted Senate immigration bill has caused the wave of young illegal immigrants that are sweeping over America’s border with Mexico.
The child migration is a symptom of the nation’s broken immigration system, the official said, and the responsibility for not fixing it “lies at the feet of the U.S. Congress,” the official said in a June 9 press call with reporters. The two White House officials on the call asked that they not be identified by name.
But the official declined to reveal critical information about the accelerating flow of adult immigrants from Central America, who are using the administration’s lax enforcement of border rules to win legal permission to stay in the United States.
For example, the official refused to speak on the record, and refused to say how many “family units,” have crossed the border in the calculated hope of being allowed to settle in the United States.
The administration’s secrecy is important, because officials have been trying to portray the inflow as a rush of innocent children fleeing persecution, gangs and brutal fathers, not a flood of low-skilled illegals across a porous border and into a new legal sanctuary created by Obama.
However, a second White House official on the call admitted that many illegal immigrants come across the border as families.
“We are also seeing large number of family units… mostly mothers with young children,” the official said. “They’re provided with food, they’re provided with water, for their journeys” north to meet with relatives already living in the United States, the official added.
Republican leaders — including Majority Leader Eric Cantor — have blocked Obama’s immigration bill, but have signaled their willingness to strike an immigration-boosting deal favored by business lobbyists. Most Republican senators have been quiet about the influx, but Sen. Jeff Sessions and Sen. Ted Cruz have loudly protested Obama’s failure to guard the border.
Passage of the Senate’s immigration bill is the president’s top legislative priority, said the first White House official.
If made law, it would double the annual inflow of low-wage guest workers and new immigrants to roughly 4 million per year for a decade. That’s roughly equal to the number of Americans who turn 18 each year.
In 2012, employees’ share of the nation’s annual income dropped to the lowest level in 63 years, while companies’ share reached an after-tax, 85-year record level.
In June, White House officials said the flow could include 60,000 unaccompanied minors in the 12 months up to October, and 130,000 unaccompanied minors in the next 12 months. A few days later, a leaked report predicted the inrush could include 90,000 unaccompanied minors by October, and 140,000 in the following 12 months.
But agency officials have made sure to release the cumulative number of unaccompanied minors younger than 18 who have been caught while crossing the border. They include 13,282 minors from Honduras, 11,479 minors from Guatemala and 9,850 minors from El Salvador, where the populations are poorly educated and extremely violent.
Once caught, the minors are fed and sheltered until they can be handed over to relatives or friends in the United States. Depending on official policy and decisions made in immigration courts, the administration may give them residency permits or deport them.
But the official reports do not include data about the number of adults and older teens who are trying to cross the border with children in their arms.
There’s much evidence that many of the border-crossing illegal immigrants are adults, not kids.
“Almost all the families in Honduras are emigrating because they heard this talk,” that other illegal immigrants are being welcomed by Obama’s immigration rules, said a woman from Honduras who was interviewed by an AP reporter for a June 6 article.
The woman had traveled to Mexico with her 3-year-old daughter to make the crossing.
Aguilar Cardenas, a single mother of four, also brought her young daughter from Honduras to make the dash, according to the AP report. “I decided to leave with my daughter so that maybe, this way, they’ll give me the chance to help my children advance,” she said.
Officials also admitted they have been surprised by the rapid increase in border crosses.
“The increase that we saw this year was much larger than we anticipated,” said the first official. “The numbers increased very dramatically in May,” the second official added.
The White House’s attempt to blame the president’s critics for his failure to deter migrants was also echoed by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, two Hispanic Republicans from the increasingly Hispanic state of Florida, who are working with business groups to boost immigration levels.
“When we see those children entering into United States illegally we can see that the [immigration] system as it is today does not work,” Díaz Balart said. “We don’t know who comes and who goes. That’s unacceptable,” he said according to a report by FloridaWatchdog.org.
“We are very concerned about the humanitarian chaos being created on the border where there are thousands and thousands of young, undocumented children without family supervision who are waiting for immigration reform pass,” added Ros-Lehtinen.
Díaz Balart and Ros-Lehtinen spoke last week at the event in Miami, which was funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s immigration-boosting advocacy group, FWD.us. Zuckerberg and several coalitions of industry groups are trying to import lower-wage foreign workers.
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 program that has already awarded work permits to more than 540,000 illegal immigrants.
Roughly five million people in Central American countries want to live in the United States, according to a 2013 survey by Gallup.