President Obama and his diminishing band of supporters are pandering to Latino voters by adopting a “go easy” approach to the enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws, an approach that assumes most American Hispanics are illegal immigration advocates. I hope they’re wrong.
One visible result of a wink-and-nod attitude toward border enforcement is the tidal wave of Central American children currently pouring across our southern border with Mexico. This huge influx of “undocumented” (i.e. illegal) children is overwhelming the ability of border states to deal with their basic needs. The federal government, which has sued Arizona and other states for trying to cooperate on border enforcement, is exacerbating the problem by dumping these children in bus stations across the Southwest.
“A surge of tens of thousands of Central American children across the Mexican border into Texas is being driven in large part by the perception that they will be allowed to stay under the Obama administration’s immigration policies,” The Washington Post reported; however, the administration has blamed the influx of children on widespread gang-related violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. But a leaked Border Patrol memo said many of the children came north “to take advantage of the ‘new’ U.S. law that grants a free pass (or ‘permiso’) from the U.S. government.”
Chairman Zach Taylor of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO) called the unaccompanied child crisis “an orchestrated and contrived assault on compassionate Americans ... Certainly, we’re not gullible enough to believe that thousands of unaccompanied Central American children came to America without the encouragement, aid and assistance of the U.S. government.” That’s a serious charge, but sadly, it may well be true.
In an attempt to pass so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” (conditional amnesty), the Obama administration has adopted a policy of selective border enforcement, turning a blind eye to some illegal immigrants while detaining others. And by supporting proposals like the Dream Act — which grants special benefits and privileges to the minor children of illegal parents at the expense of American citizens — the administration has encouraged thousands more children to come to the U.S. Just as President Reagan’s ill-considered 1986 amnesty plan attracted millions of illegal immigrants to our country, the Dream Act and similar proposals invite Latin American parents to send their children north to the Promised Land.
I think NAFBPO Chairman Taylor is right when he says the current wave of underaged illegal immigration is “orchestrated” because all of these children are telling the same story: They fled their native countries to escape increasing violence. Of course that story makes them eligible for consideration as political refugees. Do you think the overwhelmed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is going to turn them down in an election year?
According to USA Today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection detained more than 47,000 unaccompanied children at the Mexican border from last October through the end of May, a 92 percent increase from the same period a year earlier. President Obama called the situation “a humanitarian crisis” and announced plans to temporarily house and care for young detainees on U.S. military bases. Nevertheless, DHS continues to ship these children from state to state, a clear violation of a federal law that defines such transfers as “alien smuggling.”
Although U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 163 suspected alien smugglers — many of whom have ties to human traffickers and/or drug cartels — on the Mexican border earlier this month, unaccompanied children continue to pour across the border. No wonder so many of us question whether our president is really committed to tough border enforcement.
Guy W. Farmer, the Appeal’s senior political columnist, frequently writes about immigration issues.