On Sunday, a Texas Democrat said the Obama administration knew a year ago that it had a problem with illegal immigrant children from Central America and did not act fast enough to take away incentives for them to keep flooding across the border.
In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) said the Obama administration “knew this was happening a year ago and they’re not reacting fast enough, in my opinion.”
“They’re one step behind,” he said. “The administration should have been ready for the surge.”
Because the country’s immigration courts are “so backlogged” and “there is not enough detention spaces,” many illegal immigrants are allowed to remain in the country for years, which is why migrants believe they will not be deported if they cross the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, many are even flagging down Border Patrol agents, asking for “permisos” to enter the United States.
“There is an incentive that if you bring your child over here or [send] your child… you’re going to get let go. That’s exactly what’s happening,” Cuellar said. “This is the incentive that we have to take away.”
Obama’s temporary amnesty program that he enacted by executive fiat may have done the most to lure illegal immigrants from Central America.
As the Christian Science Monitor noted, in the fiscal year before Obama unilaterally enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, there were 6,560 illegal immigrant kids who crossed the border. In the fiscal year after the executive action, there were 13,625. As Breitbart News has reported, “since October of last year, there have been at least 50,000. And federal officials estimate that there will be 150,000-160,000 more illegal immigrant children who will attempt to illegally enter the country next year.”
Cuellar also called for changes to a 2008 trafficking law, which was signed by President George W. Bush, that requires the federal government to treat children from Central American countries differently from those from Mexico or Canada. Illegal immigrants from countries other than Mexico or Canada must be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours and can be placed with a “suitable family member” in the United States.
Cuellar has previously said that once illegal immigrants from Central America are released with notices to appear before federal authorities, which they are mistaking as “permisos” to remain in the country indefinitely, they will never show up.
“If you’re a pregnant woman, or you’re a family unit, they’re gonna give you a piece of paper where you promise to show up in 90 days,” Cuellar has recently said. “And I tell you, they’re not going to show up in 90 days. No way.”