President Barack Obama is blocking several simple actions that would quickly stop the rising flood of migrant youths and adults crossing the Texas border, according to border officials and immigration reformers.
If officials wanted to block the “Dream Deluge” of Central Americans youths, for example, “they would stop releasing them to family members [in the U.S., and] make sure they’re in long-term detention until they could either verify an asylum claim or a claim for persecution,” said Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council.
Immigration officials could make sure the youths’ parents are legal residents before they transfer the children and youths, and then deport the parents if they’re here illegally, said Moran, whose council serves as a union for border patrol officers.
But Obama’s appointees say “the whole goal of the process is family unification, so we’re not allowed to even ask the legal status of whosoever is picking them up,” he said.
“If they could do this very routine immigration enforcement, it would be a hugely powerful disincentive to keep trying to smuggle the kids,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that opposes the president’s immigration reform plan.
Immigration officers “know what an effect it has on deterring the smuggling, they’ve asked to do it, but they’ve been told no, and that’s why the career personnel are so frustrated,” she said.
“They know what it take to stop this, but they’re not allowed to do,” she said.
A June 21 CNN article described how two illegals — one named “Ana” — used a relay of coyotes, border agents and employees at the Department of Health and Human Services to deliver their two children from El Salvador to Los Angeles.
“It’s unclear how far the smuggler may or may not have accompanied the children across the Rio Grande, Ana said [but] two weeks later, Ana received a phone call from a U.S. immigration official [saying] the official had Ana’s children in custody… A month later, HHS social workers called Ana [and] arranged for Ana to pick up her kids at Los Angeles International Airport.”
The agencies’ treatment of “unaccompanied minors,” is very different from the larger flow of adults with their kids. That’s because federal law requires “unaccompanied minors” be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services until they can be sent to caregivers. Youths and men aged up to 20 can also also seek a Green Card on the grounds that they’ve been abused or abandoned by parents.
But the administration has plenty of leeway in how it applies the various laws.
For example, the law says that youths are to be released to parents or other guardians, except if a “determination is made that the detention of such juvenile is required to secure his or her timely appearance before the Service or the Immigration Court,” according to section 236.3(b)(1)(iii) of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008.
Advocates for immigrants, however, are pushing to maximize their chance of staying. The youths “have rights even though they’re in [immigration] proceedings,” said David Leopold, an Ohio-based immigration lawyer and the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Moran and other agents have complained about the many new rules the administration has imposed on their mission.
“We’re very restricted in how we’re allowed to operate,” Moran said.
“We’re not allowed to do immigration checks at transportation hubs, unless we have specific actionable intelligence,” he said.
“We’re not allowed to do farm and ranch checks [and] we’re not allowed to do interior patrols,” he said.
“We’re not allowed to touch” smugglers and migrants while they’re crossing the Rio Grande, supposedly because of “safety issues,” he said.
“We’re still being controlled in how many hours we can work… [and are] now limited to nine-hour shifts,” he said. “We don’t have the full manpower out in the field,” he said.
“We have gaps in coverage that are a direct result of managerial decisions,” because managers are rewarded for minimizing operational costs, and for having low numbers of illegals in their zone, he said. “Managers aren’t getting cash bonuses for arresting people — they’re getting cash bonuses for reducing operational costs or reducing the amount of gasoline they use.”
There’s also little expectation that Obama’s appointees will try to deport the youths and kids once they are released from HHS.
In 2012, Obama ordered immigration officials to stop deporting younger illegal immigrants — who are dubbed ‘dreamers’ by immigration advocates — and instead allow employees to give them two-year residency permits.
The lax policy is being extended this year. On June 12, for example, Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said officials would deal with the youths according to current priorities. Obama’s priorities largely bar any deportation of illegals who have not also been convicted of a felony. In 2013, for example, Obama’s deputies deported less than 0.2 percent of illegals, not counting illegals who were deported after committing a felony.
Also, Johnson and other officials say they want to keep families intact. “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,” Johnson said June 12.
Once youths cross the border, “our goal is to quickly and safely transport the children… into a safe and secure environment that is in the best interests of the children,” he said.
In December, a federal judge said the administration is actually working to block enforcement of immigration law. The Department of Homeland Security “should cease telling the citizens of the United States that it is enforcing our border security laws because it is clearly not… Worse, it is helping those who violate these laws,” said Judge Andrew Hanen.
Even if they show up for the court cases, the youths can spent several years in the United States before exhausting legal appeals.
To aid the youths, the administration is paying at least $2 million to fund 100 immigration lawyers and paralegals.
Roughly 12 million illegals are living in the United States. That number is roughly four times the number of the 18-year-old Americans in the United States.
Since last October, roughly 50,000 supposedly unaccompanied children and youths have crossed into the United States. Federal officials say that kids and youths deemed to be aged 17 and below are “unaccompanied minors” if they cross without a parent, even if their coyotes are delivering them to the custody of the federal immigration authorities.
In addition, roughly 30,000 children and adults have crossed into the United States in family-like groups.
Some Republicans have said the White House has invited the wave of Central American illegals, partly to boost flagging support among Latino citizens.
“Probably over 40,000 individuals have been released… and after you’ve traveled thousands of miles, and you’ve paid thousands of dollars and went through a very difficult situation, you get over here and they tell you to appear [in court] at 90 days, I would say that the vast majority are not going to show up,” Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, said on the June 23 Laura Ingraham radio show.