According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, the debate over providing illegal immigrants with amnesty was “a primary cause” of last summer’s surge. The surge in question involved thousands of immigrants from Central America, many of whom were unaccompanied minors. The GAO came to their conclusions by surveying U.S. officials stationed in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
The report was quick to note that the promise of American legalization was not the only cause. Other factors included gang violence, crime, and poverty, domestic abuse, and poor educational opportunities. But many children were drawn across the border by the belief that citizenship would be in their future if they were successful. According to the best estimates available, roughly 60,000 immigrant minors crossed the border in 2014.
At the time of the crisis, President Obama dismissed the notion that a promising path to legality was driving the surge into the United States. Instead, he blamed the problem on Central American factors alone, insisting that these children may even qualify for refugee status due to the dire situations in their home countries. Even without that status, of course, the immigrants could be stuck in the deportation process for years. That could give many of them the opportunity to blend in with their surroundings and escape deportation entirely.
It was already known that Obama’s policies led to an extraordinary increase in Border Patrol apprehensions. According to data presented as part of a 26-state lawsuit against the administration, the president’s DACA order led to a 610 percent increase in unaccompanied Honduran minors. It had similarly dramatic effects on immigrant minors from El Salvador and Guatemala.
All of this, naturally, has an enormous economic impact. Already, federal grants for refugee resettlement programs have risen from $136 million in 2011 to a staggering $800 million in 2014. How much more money can we afford to throw at this problem?
The Democrats have done a masterful job of repositioning illegal immigration as a moral and ethical dilemma. Never mind the common sense, they say. Never mind national security. Never mind the economy. No matter how unsustainable the costs, we owe it to these poor immigrants to roll out the red carpet. Why, just look at this young immigrant we cherry-picked out of 11 million. She has her sights set on a law degree! Isn’t that wonderful?
It is wonderful. But a country isn’t run on feelings and stuffed animals. Very few Americans are suggesting we pour millions into rounding up every last illegal immigrant. What we are suggesting is that maybe it’s time to get serious about securing the border. And if there is to be a path to legality, it should come from the lawmaking body of our federal government – not the executive branch. And if we’re ready to offer employment opportunities to illegals, then there should not be a single American citizen behind them in the job line. Clean up these issues, and you can come back to us with the crocodile tears. Until then, we have to look out for our own interests.