The flow of Central American migrant families across the Texas border is continuing at almost the same level as a year ago, according to newly released federal data.
In the last three months of 2014, 7,468 Central American migrants crossed in family units, down only 12 percent from the 8,511 migrants who crossed during the last three months of 2013, according to the federal data.
The late 2013 flow was the vanguard of roughly 60,000 adults and children who crossed in so-called “family units” during the 12 months up to October 2014. That “family unit” inflow occurred alongside the much-publicized inflow of 60,000 children and youths.
Since last summer, White House officials have made deals with Mexico and other Central Americans countries that are intended to block the northern flow of migrants. The continued flow across the border suggests those deals have not succeeded.
The continued inflow is also a warning sign for Republican leaders, who are rapidly pushing a new border security bill that only adds 48 miles of fending to the 2,000-mile border but doesn’t do anything to end President Barack Barack Obama’s catch-and-release policy toward Central American migrants, say critics.
The bill also calls for improved technological surveillance of the border and a better visa tracking system, and for more active duty officers and agents on the border.
The leaders’ bill is slated for a quick markup as early as Monday Jan. 26, and a floor vote on Wednesday, Jan. 28.
The continued inflow of family migrants suggests there will be another border surge starting as early as March, said Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors low-scale immigration.
But the Central American governments want their poor citizens to migrate to the United States, the Mexican police are too corrupt to stop the cartel-managed surge, and Obama will likely repeat his 2014 policy of allowing the migrants to apply for asylum and work permits, Vaughan said.
GOP legislators “will look foolish if they pass this [border] bill,” because it won’t stop Obama from welcoming the next wave of migrants, she said.
GOP leaders are “completely squandering all that public trust that worked so well for them in the election … and they’re willing to toss that away in the expectation that the Mexican government and the administration will solve [a 2015 surge] for them,” she said.
By July 2014, polls reported that up to 57 percent of likely voters opposed President Barack Obama’s immigration policies.
The steady flow of family groups — typically a woman and one or two children, mostly girls — however, has been disguised by the top-level attention given by the White House and the media to the cross-border transfer of children and young adults.
The children and youths are accompanied by coyotes to the U.S. border, where they are handed over to U.S. border police for transfer to their relatives who are already living illegally in the United States.
In 2014, the flow of roughly 60,000 youths was equal to the flow of families.
But the flow of youths has fallen by roughly 85 percent during the last three months of 2014, prompting White House officials to say they’ve regained control of the border.
The federal data showing the continued inflow of adults and children is backed up by a report from a charitable group on the border.
“The numbers increased a lot this past month, almost to 100 every day [last week],” Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley according to a Tuscon Sentinel report from Dec. 2.
“They have hope that they have a chance at a better life here. … It doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon,” Pimentel said.
Under rules set by Obama, most of the foreign migrants are released by the Border Patrol, after which they move to areas that already include other migrants, including Virginia, New York, Florida, Georgia, Maryland and Massachusetts. The resulting flow of working-age migrants and often-illiterate children is a burden for local communities, who have to provide welfare and education, even as their residents face greater competition for jobs.
GOP leaders, however, have done nothing to stop Obama’s catch-and-release policy.
Instead, they’re pushing a border security bill that critics fear will only provide political cover for passage of the amnesty and guest-worker bills favored by Democrats and the Chamber of Commerce.
The bill is being opposed by the unions representing border patrol and immigration enforcement police.
“H.R. 399 — Chairman McCaul’s legislation — does nothing to preclude anyone in the world from turning themselves in at the U.S. border and obtaining automatic entry and federal benefits,” such as work permits, said a Jan. 22 letter from Kenneth Palinkas, head of the union representing the 12,000 federal employees at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
The McCaul bill “will only serve as window dressing and was drafted without any input front line agents who are protecting our border,” said a Jan. 23 statement from Shawn Moran, a spokesman for the National Border Patrol Council’s 16,500 agents. “We are very interested in working with any member of Congress to create legislation that focuses on a real strategy that keeps our nation and our agents safe.”
The bill doesn’t try to stop Obama’s catch-and-release policy, said Vaughan. “The Republicans are just facilitating the president’s policy, just looking the other way,” she said.
The Tea Party Patriots group wants the McCaul bill modified to include anti-amnesty language that was overwhelmingly approved by GOP legislators in July 2014.
The bill is intended to help legislators reassure worried GOP voters prior to an amnesty sellout by the GOP leadership, said D.A. King, a Georgia-based anti-amnesty activist. “It is a complete scam. … They’re treating us like ‘we the bubbas,’ not ‘we the people,'” he said, adding that the GOP legislators’ “contempt for their own base is astonishing and sickening.”
Several top GOP leaders have said they want to pass bills that would import hundreds of thousands of lower-wage workers for food-sector jobs, for blue-collar jobs and for jobs sought by young U.S. professionals, such as therapists, teachers, accountants and pharmacists. A senior GOP chairman, Rep. Pete Sessions, also said he hoped to enact an amnesty in 2015. Sessions is a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner.
In December, top Republican leaders ignored opposition from almost 90 percent of the GOP base and almost one-third of GOP legislators and pushed through a 2015 funding bill that funded Obama’s unilateral amnesty for 12 million illegals in the United States.
In January, public pressure forced Boehner to pass a bill blocking Obama’s amnesty and imposing major reforms on Obama’s border policy. But Republicans in the Senate say their 54-seat majority isn’t strong enough to overcome Democratic support for the amnesty. If the McCaul bill is passed by the House, it may be passed by the Senate GOP instead of the January reform bill, critics worry.
GOP leaders, including McCaul, say the border bill is just one of several bills intended to bolster security. The bill spends more on border protection, but doesn’t change immigration law because that’s a task for the House judiciary committee, he said.
“The Committee on Homeland Security does not have jurisdiction over interior enforcement. … House Republicans are taking a step-by-step approach and as such the ‘Secure Our Borders First’ bill deals solely with the problem at our southern, northern, and maritime borders,” said a Jan. 23 statement from his office.
The GOP legislators who have backed the bill include Texas Reps. McCaul, Lamar Smith, Will Hurd and John Ratcliffe, Pennsylvania’s Barletta, Tom Marino and Scott Perry, Michigan’s Mike Rogers and Candace Miller, New York’s Peter King and John Katko, Georgia’s Erl Carter and Barry Loudermilk, plus South Carolina’s Jeff Duncan, Mississippi’s Steven Palazzo, Florida’s Curtis Clawson, North Carolina’s Mark Walker and Arizona’s Martha McSally.