By Joe Guzzardi
August 12, 2016
During his nearly eight years in the White House, President Obama has never been able to sell Congress on his comprehensive immigration reform vision. Obama didn’t have the sway to convince the House to take up the 2013 Senate immigration bill for the simplest reason. Most U.S. representatives knew that back in their home districts, voters perceived the bill as amnesty, a turkey in their eyes.
Obama then embarked on a series of executive actions aimed to effectively grant amnesty, the most notable of which was his 2014 attempt, thwarted by the Supreme Court, to give deferred deportation and to issue work permits to about five million unlawful immigrants.
But when it comes to keeping the border open, Obama is not easily discouraged. The Obama administration’s latest amnesty version, which, like all his others, circumvents Congress, is to work with the United Nations to identify Central Americans that they deem refugees, screen them in their native countries, and resettle them in the U.S.
The ill-conceived Central American Minors (CAM) program will also allow siblings, parents, and the caregivers accompanying minors to apply for refugee status. As the White House sees it, CAM will provide an “orderly and safe” resettlement in the U.S., and will take pressure off the border where since October 51,000 people traveling as families and 43,000 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended trying to enter illegally. The pattern of increased Central American migration is well-established: the total jumped 60 percent from 2012 to 2013, and 75 percent from 2013 to 2014.
According to congressional testimony from National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd, the Obama administration exacerbated the migration problem when he issued new advisories that revived “catch-and-release” which orders that most apprehended aliens be freed and allowed to enter the general population. Catch-and-release contravenes federal law. Under Title 8 US Code 1222, when an immigration officer comes into contact with an illegal alien who has not been legally admitted to the U.S., “the alien shall be detained for a proceeding” by the officer. In U.S. law, the word “shall” means imperative or mandatory, something that must be done. Yet the law is routinely ignored.
CAM is wrong in theory and in practice. Despite the administration’s claims, Central Americans are not true refugees but rather economic migrants who move to the U.S. to improve their standard of living. As Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva Michael Møller said, the words refugee and migrant have been “put into the same salad. To put it very bluntly, every refugee is a migrant. Not every migrant is a refugee.”
Immigration should benefit Americans. But Census Bureau data shows that more than half of all immigrant-led households receive at least one form of welfare benefit; if a child lives in that home, the total increases to 76 percent. The U.S. cannot resolve every global crisis, nor can it accommodate every asylum petitioner. Common sense dictates that refugees should resettle in the first stable country they reach. But whether the migrants come from as close by as Central America or as far away as Syria, the destination of choice is always America.
To deter migration, Obama should stop sending Central Americans messages that their unlawful entry will be rewarded. The president made a tepid effort to do exactly that in 2014 when he warned, but didn’t follow up on his threat, “Do not send your children to the border…they’ll get sent back.” Instead, Obama perpetuates Central American migration with his welcoming policies.
Joe Guzzardi is a Senior Writing Fellow with Californians for Population Stabilization.
Email Joe @[email protected] Find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.