Biden: Some ‘Dream Deluge’ Illegals May Get Citizenship

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

Vice President Joe Biden inadvertently offered U.S. citizenship to thousands, or even tens of thousands, of illegal immigrants from Central America — even though he was trying to persuade them to not cross the border.

“We’re going to hold hearings with our judges consistent with international law and American law, and we’re going to send the vast majority of you back,” he said during a June 20 press press conference in Guatemala.

But “vast majority” is not “all.” So Biden’s statement says the U.S. will award the Grand Prize in human life — ‘U.S. citizenship for you and all your descendants’ — to the illegal immigrants who are not among the “vast majority” who are sent home.

Biden scheduled the press conference to help stop the accelerating deluge of 90,000 adults, youths and children who have crossed the Texas border since last October.

Biden compounded his televised gaffe by telling Central Americans the legal formula for winning the citizenship prize.

Migrants “have a right under our law to make the case… that ‘We’re here because we’re avoiding persecution, we’re avoiding something [which] will physically affect our safety,” he said.

In case the TV audiences in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador missed his legal advice, Biden repeated it. “We’re sending immigration judges, [taxpayer-provided] attorneys to represent these young people and families with young people… who are claiming credible fear, and [who] are eligible to apply for asylum,” he reiterated.

Biden’s partially-open door declaration may become a massive problem if hundreds of thousands more Central Americans follow his legal advice and claim “persecution” and “credible fear” to unlock the golden door of U.S. immigration law for themselves, their children and all of their descendants.

U.S. government officials predict more than 200,000 adults, youths and children will cross by October, creating a major political headache for President Barack Obama.

Roughly six percent of the flow is estimated to consist of children younger than 15. Nearly all of those children are sent north by their relatives in the hope that U.S. officials will transport them to their illegal-immigrant parents inside the United States.

That’s a problem for Obama, because it undermines his political campaign to pressure GOP leaders in the House to pass the Senate’s unpopular 2013 immigration bill. A Gallup poll released June 20 showed that 61 percent of Americans oppose his immigration policies. Only 31 percent of Americans, and 25 percent of independents, support his immigration-boosting policies.

The business-backed Senate bill would double the inflow of immigrants and guest-workers to four million per year, which is roughly equal to the number of Americans who turn 18 each year.

Later in his 38-minute press conference, Biden took a harder line when responding to one of the two reporters who were allowed to ask questions at the press-conference

“There is no free pass… none of these children or women bringing children will be eligible under the existing law in the United States of America,” he said.

But that absolute defense of U.S. citizenship was outshone by Biden’s repeated offer of citizenship to some of the border-crossers.

“Make no mistake, once an individual’s case is fully heard, and if he or she does not qualify for asylum, he or she will be removed from the United States and returned home,” he said. “Everyone should know that.”

Biden reiterated the White House’s statement that border-crossers are not eligible for the 2012 version of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival policy, which he announced during the 2012 campaign.

That policy has bypassed U.S. immigration law, and provided work-permits to at least 550,000 young illegal immigrants already living in the United States. Advocates for those illegals call them “Dreamers.”

In response, critics of Obama’s immigration policies says the flood of new border crossers is a “Dream Deluge.”

Many of the new border-crossers hope to get work permits similar to those awarded to the “dreamers.”

Biden also repeated the claim that new illegals are not technically eligible for the amnesty included in the Senate’s 2013 amnesty and guest-worker bill. But that bill has very weak verification measures, potentially allowing new border-crossers to claim they arrived before the 2011 deadline.

Biden did not say the president would oppose adding recent border-crossers to his 2012 DACA regulation, or to the 2013 bill.

Biden also described the 2013 bill as a better hope for illegals now living in the United States and who want to bring in their children from Honduras or other states.

Regional leaders “are very concerned about family reunification [for their nationals illegally living in the United States], but they understand that that’s what the immigration bill does,” he added. “It provides a legal way to do that.”

Biden also said nothing about people who use a weak legal claim to get temporary residency in the U.S., and then evade immigration officials when they get a deportation order. Several hundred thousand illegals are now living the U.S. with deportation orders, which the administration is not enforcing. Overall, in 2013, Obama’s deputies deported less than 0.2 percent of the roughly 12 million illegals who were not convicted of a major crime. That’s a lower number than any president since Jimmy Carter.

In his press conference, Biden mainly sought to persuade parents that Mexico is too dangerous for their children or youth to cross.

But he weakened that message by promising to take good care of any children and youths who cross the U.S. border.

“One of the [Central American] leaders with whom I met today said, one of our problems is you treat them so well they don’t want to come home to the circumstance they left,” Biden stated.

“Let me say that again.  One of the leaders I met with said, you are treating them so well they don’t want to come home to the circumstance they left,” the vice president of the United States said.

Follow Neil on Twitter