By Joe Guzzardi
June 27, 2014
In order for Americans to fully grasp the border crisis, they must first understand the difference between an illegal alien and a refugee, one of the many tricky points in immigration law. Simply put, aliens from Canada or Mexico can be returned immediately; those from other countries can only be held for a maximum of 72 hours. Then they’re turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement which places them in temporary shelters. The children become wards of the federal government while OOR attempts to reunite the child with a parent or other U.S. relative. If none can be found, they’re placed in foster care.
Short version: the Central Americans could officially be classified as refugees, and without federal mandates that they be sent home, will be permanently in the U.S. In fact, they may soon be coming to your state. Federal officials are quietly scouring the nation looking for places to relocate the aliens. Although most of the publicity has centered on the huge numbers crossing over the southwest border being transferred to Arizona, Texas and California military bases, Health and Human Services has also attempted to place them in Virginia, Illinois, and Maryland. The feds are so desperate for housing that, mistakenly thinking that the hotel was closed and abandoned but was actually under renovation, tried to put them in a deluxe resort and spa near Buffalo.
Refugee resettlement programs, huge bureaucratic partnerships between Washington and local non-profits, work together to bring large groups into communities often against the residents’ will. The inflow of refugees has been so intense that municipal governments in New England, Kentucky and Tennessee have urged a moratorium. Springfield, MA Mayor Domenic Sarno sent a letter to Congress pleading for a freeze on more refugees. Sarno cited the unmanageable strain, mostly on schools and law enforcement, their presence puts on an already economically struggling Springfield where one-third of the population lives beneath the poverty line.
Realizing that status quo on the border is untenable, Congress is taking action, but headed in two different directions. House Democrats introduced the Vulnerable Immigrant Voice Act of 2014 to provide taxpayer funded legal counsel for unaccompanied aliens. Cosponsor Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said that without his bill, unrepresented children would not have a fair chance at their immigration hearings.
Republicans have countered however. House Resolution 442, titled Stop This Overreaching Presidency, would allow the lower chamber to institute legal action to require President Obama to obey immigration laws. According to California U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, Obama’s pro-amnesty and open borders policy has motivated increasing numbers of illegal immigrants. Said Calvert, the Obama administration is “planning on spreading the problem [from the border] to inland communities that lack the resources to deal with an influx of illegal immigrants.”
Speaker John Boehner announced that he expects to decide within a few days if the House will file a lawsuit against Obama citing, among the president’s other executive actions, his order to stay deportation for tens of thousands of aliens who came to the U.S. as children, commonly referred to as deferred action for childhood arrivals.
Regardless of Americans’ opinions on amnesty, pro or con, the border travesty is ugly business for which the Obama administration is directly accountable. The White House can’t expect to send welcoming messages throughout the world for five years without expecting that its invitations will be accepted. Obama might not have anticipated that his largesse would result in thousands of children flocking to America. But then again, given his long standing indifference to enforcing immigration law, he may not care.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been nationally syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]