White House officials won’t say how many of the illegal immigrants now flooding up from Central America have been given a courtroom date to ask for green cards.
“I will take a look and see if those numbers are available,” White House Josh Earnest told frustrated reporters at the Friday White House press conference.
Earnest’s evasion came after multiple questions from Fox News’ Ed Henry and NBC’s Jim Avila.
“We will get back to you with respect to the precise numbers,” Alejandro Mayorkas, the deputy secretary of Homeland Security, told reporters during a Friday phone conference with reporters.
Mayorkas is in charge of the agency which provides the vital “Notice to Appear” documents that give the illegal immigrants a court date in U.S. immigration courts. The notice are dubbed “permiso” by Latinos.
If they get the permiso, they are let go into the United States.
They can subsequently decide to live in the United States as illegal immigrants, where they will face minimal chance of deportation. In 2013, for example, Obama’s deputies deported less than 0.2 percent of the illegals living in the U.S. who had not been found guilty of felonies.
Alternatively, the illegal immigrants can use the permiso to appeal for the right to stay in the United States. If they later decide they’re likely to lose that claim, they can evade deportation by living as illegal immigrants.
But if the illegals are not given the permiso, they’re detained until they’re returned to their home countries.
If the White House releases data on the number of permiso, it would allow Americans, would-be migrants and Latino ethnic advocacy groups to quickly calculate how many of the illegals are being sent home, and how many are likely to win green cards.
Another official on the call, Cecilia Munoz, Obama’s top domestic policy aide, also refused to provide the requested numbers. She is a former senior executive at the La Raza ethnic lobby.
Laura Meckler, the Wall Street Journal’s immigration reporter, complained to Munoz and Mayorkas about the stonewall. “You have not been willing or able to produce any numbers,” she said.
In response, Mayorkas offered a different sent of numbers. He said that 52,000 unaccompanied youths have been arrested, and 39,000 additional adults and accompanying children have been apprehended since October.
A late May estimate by an official predicted that 90,000 unaccompanied youths, plus 140,000 adults with accompanying children, will cross the border in the 12 months up to October.
On June 12, Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, frustrated reporters when he refused to provide numbers about the inflow.
The permiso numbers are important because they would show Americans how many of the low-skill, Spanish-speaking illegal immigrants could become their fellow citizens and neighbors. If there is evidence that Obama is allowing illegal immigration, it could damage his already low favorability rating, which now stands at just over 42 percent.
Prior data shows that roughly 50 percent of people who get the “Notice To Appear” — the “permisos” — are eventually allowed to stay, said Wendy Young, president of Kids In Need of Defense, which advocates to win green cards for foreign youths.
If that percentage is matched in this wave, Americans are on track to get 150,000 new citizens from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
The Central American illegal immigrants can use a variety of claims to win green cards from immigration judges.
For example, adults can ask for asylum by claiming they face a “credible fear” of persecution if they are sent home. Youths who say they are younger than 17 can argue they need refuge because they have been abandoned by their parents.
The administration has allocated taxpayer-funded lawyers to help the migrants make their claims for residency. For example, the Department of Justice has allowed $2 million to fund 100 lawyers to help the illegals plead for residency.
Also, officials have not announced any changes that would hinder the refugees’ legal claims. For example, officials could demand more proof when border crossers claim to be younger than 18, or claim to be afraid of persecution.
Officials have tried to downplay the illegals’ use of courts to win green cards by repeatedly saying that the illegals cannot win amnesty by two more prominent routes.
One of the other routes is the president’s 2012 two-year amnesty for youths. which has been used by at least 560,000 younger illegal immigrants now living in the United States.
The second other route is the pending immigration bill. If the Obama-backed bill is approved by top GOP leaders, and then passed through the House, it would provide an amnesty to at least 10 million illegal immigrants who have been in the country for several years.