By Joe Guzzardi
April 22, 2016
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has issued a grave report that, if accurate, will affect state and local governments as they struggle to balance their strained budgets. According to CRS, a legislative branch agency that works at Congress’ behest to provide policy and legal analysis, a record surge of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) will enter the United States this summer.
Since fiscal year 2011, the number of UAC traveling to the U.S. from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has increased sharply. In 2014, U.S. authorities encountered more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors from those nations at the U.S. border with Mexico, a more than 1,200 percent increase compared to FY 2011.
Alarmingly, during the first five months of FY 2016, UAC flows increased sharply. Pew Charitable Trust’s director of the Immigration and the States Project, Adam Hunter, said that the totals exceed those reached during the same period in 2015, and are even higher than the record 2014 year.
The continued flow of illegal immigrant children has particularly dire consequences for California. To date during this fiscal year, Los Angeles County has taken in nearly 1,500 unaccompanied children, the largest number of any county nationwide. They’ll eventually add to California’s 450,000 pending immigration court cases that have piled up in the last two years. In 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown granted $3 million to nonprofits to aid unaccompanied children in their immigration cases. But in light of California’s $175 billion deficit, additional funds may be hard to allocate.
Even if Brown extends funding, the money would be wasted. Only 12 percent of unlawful entries show up for their assigned court dates, and the Department of Homeland Security has no intention of deporting the illegal immigrants even if they’re ordered removed. As DHS assistant secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd, “Why would we issue a notice to appear [in immigration court] to those we have no intention to deport?”
Last year, DHS admitted that it had deported only 6 percent of alien minors. The remaining 94 percent encourage family and friends to join them in the U.S., and assure them that consequences are unlikely. Indeed, earlier this year, the Obama administration ordered the border patrol to release any illegal alien who claims to have been in the U.S. since January 2014, a return to “catch and release.”
Most of the border crossers were not unaccompanied minors, but rather young males, logically reacting to what they correctly perceive as a series of welcoming policy changes the Obama administration began during his administration’s first year.
The worst days of border surging are yet to come. In March, Customs and Border Protection told Congress that it was preparing for 75,000 new alien minors in 2017. Throughout the crisis, the media has identified violence in Central America as illegal immigration’s primary driver. Statistics show, however, that Central America has not become significantly more dangerous. The murder rate in Honduras, the largest sending country in 2014, declined by about 20 percent between 2012 and 2014.
The many unilateral executive actions that Obama has taken since his 2009 inauguration, including disregard for border enforcement, have gutted existing immigration laws, compromised national security and have imposed fiscal burdens on local communities that jeopardize their ability to adequately care for their citizens.
Joe Guzzardi ([email protected]) is a Senior Writing Fellow with Californians for Population Stabilization.