A Monkey Wrench in Immigration Reform

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.

9 comments… add one
  • steve

    Total illegal immigration is way down. The number of kids coming is fairly small compared with total immigration, but it plays well on TV. It also seems fairly clear now that this is a misinterpretation of our actual policy promulgated by the people getting paid to smuggle them into the US, along with whatever Mexico is doing. Congress could act to change the law and allow them to be immediately sent back, just like Mexican kids, but I doubt they do that as they now have an excuse to avoid immigration reform. Given the conditions in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, I am not sure that would be the right thing anyway.


  • CStanley

    Given the conditions in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, I am not sure that would be the right thing anyway.

    This is the problem. These people aren’t just seeking economic relief, they are fleeing from rampant violence, fueled in part by the political situations in their homelands. There’s simply no way that any of that is going to be fixed anytime soon.

  • What’s in the best interests of the children? I think that in all likelihood it’s repatriation and return to their parents.

    The alternatives that we have are just turning them loose on the streets on their own recognizance (more or less the present plan) or keeping them locked up in compounds. Would you want your children to be locked up in those compounds on an indefinite basis? On second thought let me see if I can come up with another way to phrase that.

    How about is being locked up in compounds with other kids, possibly including juvenile criminals and sex offenders, really in the best interest of the children?

  • Andy

    Of course Mexico is complicit, as is most of the rest of Central and South America. Once it’s established that a person wants to go to the US and not stay in , they are sent on their way.

  • TastyBits

    Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador

    I keep hearing from the proponents of open borders that this is the problem. I guess like everything else I should just take their word for it. They are the smartest people in the whole wide world. I am sure they actually know what they have researched the subject. Only a backward, racist, redneck would parrot crap he/she read from some partisan idiot.

  • jan

    “What’s in the best interests of the children? I think that in all likelihood it’s repatriation and return to their parents.”

    That’s probably the best solution, in the midst of having really no good options. However, that seems to be the state of affairs this country is now finding itself in — not reacting to a growing crisis in a timely manner, then being taken off guard when the dam bursts and there’s little we can do to stem the flow of unsavory events.

  • Cstanley

    The best solution, IMO, would be a massively funded international relief effort with establishment of refugee camps (say, at the southern Mexico border), but I know that’s not realistic.

  • steve

    “I think that in all likelihood it’s repatriation and return to their parents.”

    My initial thought, then I remembered that in the stories being circulated it was the parents telling their kids they should leave. A number of the kids have no parents or their parents came here illegally and are afraid to return because of the increased border security.


  • Jimbino

    Dave Schuler,

    There are lots of alternatives you haven’t considered. To me, a childfree taxpayer, potty-trained Central American kids are preferable to Amerikan kids, who literally cost me thousands per year for their breeding, birth, potty-training and mis-education.

    A good solution to the problem is to let us taxpayers support kids of our own choosing and leave our normal Amerikan breeders to their own devices–the way it used to be before all the breeders were given carte blanche to feed at the nanny-state trough.

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