The Government Accountability Office stated Wednesday that confusing policy statements from the Obama administration were largely responsible for the surge of illegal immigrant minors last summer.
Seventy thousand unaccompanied children poured through the southern border in 2014. On top of those numbers, 60,000 additional children came into the country accompanied by their parents, according to the GAO.
The Obama administration previously claimed dangerous economies ravaged by drug cartels were responsible for the surge.
“Agency officials noted that a variety of factors likely caused the recent rapid increase in [unaccompanied minor children] migration, including the increased presence of coyotes, perceptions concerning U.S. immigration law, and recent improvements in the U.S. economy,” according to the report. “In addition, agency officials noted that some pervasive problems have recently intensified in some places, including rising levels of violence and insecurity and worsening economic and social conditions.”
The GAO found Guatemalan citizens thought crossing the Mexican-American border automatically meant amnesty qualification. Immigrants also believed that President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” executive order would cover their children.
Likewise, Honduran mothers believed the U.S. would allow pregnant women and children into the nation. To try and counter this, the United States tried a massive information campaign in Central American nations explaining the incredible amount of danger in trying to come to the United States illegally.
They also established several detention facilities in Texas and other border states to try and control the influx of illegal immigrants.
This Wednesday, however, GAO investigators said that many “State Department officers expressed either uncertainty or doubt concerning the effectiveness of past campaigns centered on the dangers of migration” and that it was “uncertain whether such campaigns resonated with citizens … since the dangers were already well known.”
Obama drew criticism last year after not visiting those detentions. Many questioned how the president could properly be addressing the immigration if he hadn’t even seen the problem first-hand.
But, Press Secretary Josh Earnest assured that Obama had “a very good sense of what’s happening at the border” and he was receiving “regular updates from his officials who’ve traveled to that region. They’re focused on solving this problem.”
The State Department claimed “that the most effective way to deter illegal migration is to address underlying factors of migration in Central America.”
But this contradicts a GAO visit to Honduras that found wasteful spending of American tax dollars intended for an education program. The American government provided aid that would assist Honduran officials in training prosecutors to improve their criminal justice system. Yet, when GAO officials showed up to Tegucigalpa, the capitol, the program was defunct and nobody was to be found.
The GAO concluded that “ineffective campaigns could lead to higher levels of migration to the United States, which is not only potentially costly in terms of U.S. taxpayer resources but costly and dangerous to the migrants and their families.”