The sudden influx of unaccompanied minors into the United States from south of the border is complicating the president’s plans to reform immigration by any means necessary:
Absent the current crisis at the border with Mexico, Obama might have made his next step a big one. Activists have been pressuring him to extend protection from deportation to a larger class of undocumented immigrants, building on his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which made it possible for undocumented immigrants who arrived as children to gain a legal foothold in the U.S.
But since October, more than 52,000 unaccompanied children, most of them from Central America, have wound up in the care of the U.S. government. An additional 39,000 mothers with children have crossed the border into U.S. custody over the same period.
The influx has changed the political calculations. The White House is still off balance, but even more awkwardly than before. Unlike the presence of 11 million or so undocumented immigrants in the U.S., most of whom have been here for many years, the children’s crisis both began, and escalated, entirely under Obama’s administration.
Republicans, suddenly blessed with a fact that fits their pre-packaged narrative of a lawless president overseeing a besieged border, have what they’ve long lacked: ammunition. Like his colleagues, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte has achieved nothing on immigration. Now, however, he has 52,000 reasons why nothing can be done. He’ll be traveling to the Rio Grande Valley next week to lambaste the administration for allowing the children’s crusade to overrun Texas.
Presumably, we need these youthful migrants to start new businesses here in the United States. The news reports on this development have conjured up images of rosy-cheeked urchins but the reality appears to be a bit more complicated. A sizeable percentage of the unaccompanied minors are teenage males and there have been reports some of them are gang members.
I repeat the point I’ve made about this in the past. The missing link in this discussion is the government of Mexico. According to the reports the preponderance of these young people aren’t Mexicans but from farther south, i.e. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, maybe even Colombia. They’re crossing more than a thousand miles of Mexico to arrive at our border. I find it incredible that could take place in the numbers being reported without the Mexican government being aware of it and maybe even complicit in it. This report from The Economist, for example, suggests that Mexico is deporting these kids into the United States rather than repatriating them.