By Joe Guzzardi
October 28, 2015
Although the surge of Central American illegal immigrant children and families received much less publicity this summer than last, recently released Border Patrol statistics show that fiscal 2015 is the second worst on record.
In September alone, border patrol agents apprehended 4,476 unaccompanied minors and 5,273 parents and children travelling as a family unit. These shocking totals prove once again that illegal immigrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, as well as other countries, are confident that the United States’ lax approach to immigration law enforcement makes the risk worth the reward for those who manage to cross successfully.
As they did in 2014, Washington, D.C., immigration officials blamed the continued surge on violence and poor economic conditions as the driving factor behind the flight of Central Americans from their homes to the U.S. But the two-year Central American surge is part of a larger pattern of nonenforcement that President Obama has implemented since his inauguration, and that has accelerated in the last two years. Since 2009, illegal immigration has averaged between 300,000 and 400,000 annually.
But beginning in 2012, the U.S. experienced a dramatic increase in illegal entries by unaccompanied minors from Mexico and Central America. Aliens apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border jumped 60 percent from 2012 to 2013, and 75 percent from 2013 to 2014. News reports wrongly insisted that they were refugees fleeing potentially deadly chaos in their home countries even though Central America had not become significantly more dangerous. The murder rate in Honduras, the largest sending country last year, had dropped about 20 percent from 2012 to 2014. The mostly young male contingent of so-called unaccompanied minors was taking advantage of Obama’s well-publicized, lenient immigration policy changes.
Once on U.S. soil, the migrants know they are highly unlikely to be returned. The Government Accountability Office surveyed Department of Homeland Security, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development workers and found that the majority of children believed that after crossing illegally they would eventually be granted citizenship.
Those apprehended are given permisos to remain pending an immigration court date to determine their final status. Agents laughingly call them “run letters” because they know once the migrants are released, the chance of them showing up for their appointments is slim. In an extraordinary example of the aliens’ disregard for American law, some have posted their permisos on social networks, a gesture that encourages others in their native countries to join them.
Department of Justice Executive Office of Immigration Review statistics show that 84 percent of those adults with children who were allowed to remain free pending trial absconded, and fewer than 4 percent deported themselves voluntarily.
Such a casual approach to enforcement can have deadly consequences. On October 27, House Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson requesting the details regarding the September 4, 2015, murder of 17-year-old Virginian Danny Centeno-Miranda allegedly by three illegal unaccompanied minors who entered in 2013.
After a brief investigation, three suspects were apprehended by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office with help from the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force. Arrested were Salvadoran suspects Henry Dominguez-Vasquez and Juan Aguirre-Zelaya, both with possible ties to the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang. They were charged as accessories to the shooting, and with firearm possession while in the country illegally. The alleged shooter, a 17-year-old Mexican national, was charged with murder and using a firearm while committing a felony. Grassley added that such incidents have become “too common.” All had been ordered to appear in immigration court in August, but skipped the hearing.
During the remainder of Obama’s second term, Americans can expect to continue to be at risk. The DHS Inspector General found that the agency has no data on aliens that are released who later commit crimes. Unless enforcement becomes a priority, unlikely until a new president takes office, the border will stay open, a welcoming beacon to the world’s criminal element.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]