Obama Hides Steady Inflow Of Central American Migrants

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

The unprecedented multi-year inflow of 150,000 poor Central American migrants into the United States has dropped by only one-quarter during the hottest and most dangerous month of this year.

That’s contrary to the spin from the officials who have tried to claim the August drop was much larger and that the post-2009 inflow is perhaps coming to an end.

“The number of apprehensions in August are down from July, and they’re actually lower than they were August of last year,” President Barack Obama claimed during an August 28 press conference.

“Apprehensions in July were half of what they were in June [and] so we’re seeing a significant downward trend in terms of these unaccompanied children,” he said.

Obama however, focused the reporters’ attention on the smaller part of the inflow — the so-called “unaccompanied children” from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

He ignored the bigger and faster-growing part of the inflow — the groups of adults and children that are defined as “family units” by border officials.

Obama’s data was correct for the number of Central American “unaccompanied” youths who crossed without adults. Their numbers fell from 4,332 in July to 2,037 in August, according to monthly records that are released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.

But Obama ignored the number of Central Americans crossing in “family units.” Their numbers dropped only slightly, from 5,517 in July to 5,205 in August.

When combined, that’s a 26 percent drop from 9,849 in July to 7,242 in the hot and dangerous month of August.

The small-scale drop is a problem for the president, whose push for increased immigration has been stopped by growing public opposition. That opposition jumped once Americans saw the poor migrants being welcomed by Obama’s deputies, despite the existence of laws that allow immediate repatriation of the migrants.

For example, a July poll of 1,044 Americans by the Associated Press and GfK Public Affairs showed that public approval of Obama’s immigration policies has slipped from 22 percent in May, to only 18 percent strong approval in July. Strong disapproval climbed from 43 percent to 57 percent, marking a 18-point shift away from Obama since May, said the AP/GfK poll.

The public rejection has apparently prompted Obama to abandon a June promise to ethnic advocates to award millions of work permits to illegals already in the country. The ethnic advocates are angry and disappointed, but aren’t likely to rally their supporters against Obama in November.

If the Central American inflow continues, or rises once the hot weather is past, Obama’s amnesty plans will become even more unpopular. In prior years, the inflow fell in August and rose in September as the temperatures dropped.

More importantly, a continued inflow and growing public anger may even prompt GOP leaders to accept an emerging jobs-and-wages populist criticism of mass legal and illegal immigration.

Obama has the legal authority to stop the inflow overnight, said Jan Ting, a law professor at Temple University and a former immigration official in President George H. W. Bush’s Department of Justice. Instead, he choose to classify the migrant youths as trafficking victims, and he choose to let people in “family units” apply for asylum.

Obama “could use ‘Expedited Removal’ [rules] at the border if he chose, but he chose not to do so,” he said.

The migrants “are poor, but they’re not stupid,” so they’re continuing to cross the border, Ting told TheDC.

Since October 2013, 57,732 “family units” from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have crossed the border to claim green cards via the immigration courts, according to CBP data. So far, the administration has deported only a few hundred of the “family unit” migrants.

Since October 2013, 50,303 “unaccompanied children” from the three Central American countries have crossed the border, says the CBO data. None has been sent home, because the administration has decided to set aside normal practices and instead let them apply for green cards via asylum applications.

The 2014 number of “unaccompanied children” is almost two-and-a-half times the 2013 inflow, which added up to 22,715 Central Americans.

But the number of border-crossing Central American “family units” has risen almost five-fold since 2013, when officials recorded roughly 12,000 Central American family groups during the same period.

Obama’s focus on the so-called “unaccompanied children” is part of the administration’s effort to minimize the political damage from the inflow.

His focus on “children” steers the establishment media’s to focus on the most sympathetic group, the “unaccompanied children.” It also helps progressives and ethnic lobbies ignore the impact of the inflow on their fellow Americans. The Hill, for example, reported the new data under a headline saying “Rate of child migrants at border declines for second month.”

Moreover, Obama’s spin downplays the fact that the vast majority of the “children” are teenagers who say they’re 15, 16 or 17, and likely would be part of the workforce — not school — in their home countries.

Also, the majority of the youths and kids are not “unaccompanied.” In fact, they’re accompanied up to the border by contracted coyotes, who hand them over to federal agencies for final delivery to their parents who are living illegally in the United States. Once the parents take custody of their children — Obama’s deputies don’t check to see if they are legal residents — the parents complete payment for the coyotes’ services.

Once the migrant adults file for asylum, they’re given permission to stay and work in the United States until their claims are accepted or rejected by an immigration-court judge.

However, the courts are clogged with claims, so some are being scheduled set to be heard in 2020, according to news reports. That’s federal permission for a multi-year stay in the United States, complete with access to Americans’ welfare, health and education programs.

In the meantime, American workers are paying the bill for Obama’s decision to accept the low-skilled migrants into American society.

The bill comes in the form of increased competition for jobs, increased government spending and problems for Americans kids who now share their classrooms with Central American kids who have little or no education.

Many “are illiterate in both English and Spanish [and] the odds of us getting them to pass a 10th grade math test are negligible,” Judith Flanagan Kennedy, the mayor of Lynn, Mass. told reporters Aug. 27. Lynn is a blue-collar town, whose residents tend to work for upper-income professionals and executives.


The financial cost of educating only 37,000 migrant kids will reach $761 million per year, according to a new study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

However, the total number of “unaccompanied” Central American migrant kids and youths who have crossed the border is far higher than 37,000.

CBO data suggests Obama has accepted 91,935 “unaccompanied” kids and youths since 2009. He’s also welcomed roughly 60,000 people in “family units,” of whom half are kids and youths. That adds another roughly 30,000 youths and boosts the total of kids and youths to roughly 120,000 in the migrant population of roughly 150,000.

But the costly and disruptive inflow is good news for some Americans.

The migrants are a bonanza for better-paid university-educated Americans, including social workers, journalists, teachers, ethnic advocates and immigration lawyers, who are paid to help explain, mitigate, exploit or accelerate the complexities and problems caused by the migrants’ arrival.

Follow Neil on Twitter