By Joe Guzzardi
February 13, 2015
Last summer’s Central American border surge of unaccompanied minors has entered its second phase. On December 1, the State Department and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services launched an in-country refugee program for some Guatemalan, Salvadoran, and Honduran minors who have parents already legally residing in the U.S.
The Central American Minors (CAM) program will, according to the USCIS statement, provide children with a “safe, legal and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey” they faced last year. Most had made the “hearsay” claim that they had “credible fear” of persecution, and many turned out to be not children but teenagers or young adults.
To qualify, the child must be unmarried, under age 21, citizens of and reside in Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras. In some cases, a parent may qualify for the program if he is the spouse of the eligible parent living in the U.S who has permanent resident status, temporary protected status, or deferred action.
As usual with President Obama’s immigration executive amnesties, what’s reported only skims the surface while what’s left unsaid is its total scope and the harmful effects it will have on Americans. CAM opens up a new, expansive legal immigration category.
The fine print shows that more than minors will be coming to the U.S. as refugees. Among them will be the qualified child’s foreign-born relatives as well as convicted criminals and parolees whose home countries refuse to readmit them. In time, chain migration would open the door for thousands more Central Americans.
Newly minted legal refugees will get work permits, job training, social security numbers, driver’s licenses, and the full complement of welfare programs. Because of the multiple benefits it immediately provides, refugee status is immigrants’ most coveted goal.
Overwhelmingly, Central American refugees are poor, undereducated, and have few skills to help them climb out of poverty. Americans have proven for decades that they can graciously accept large numbers of immigrants. But, a Gallup poll found that because of Obama’s executive action, his refusal to enforce immigration law, and the six million foreign nationals and 5.5 million guest workers who have arrived since 2009, now 93 percent of Americans want less immigration.
Alarmingly, CAM could be the first in a series of U.S. refugee programs that will invite other underdeveloped countries to lobby for greater migratory rights. Taxpayers, who have no vote in immigration policy, will underwrite CAM’s cost. An analysis of Census Bureau data showed that on average, each household headed by an unskilled immigrant receives federal benefits roughly equal to the amount of taxes paid by a college graduate-headed household.
Winners in the broadened Central American refugee program are the refugees and Obama. Central Americans are on their way to citizenship, immigrants’ most coveted prize, and Obama is fulfilling his vision of the U.S. future as he expressed it in a televised Vox interview: the country as “a hodgepodge of folks.”
During his dialogue with Vox reporter Ezra Klein, Obama scorned congressional GOP members and others who disagree with him on immigration as playing on discriminatory fear. What the majority of Americans and the Republican-controlled Congress want, however, is a coherent immigration policy instead of an unsustainable, ill-conceived, come one, come all approach.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]