TUCSON, Arizona–It appears the United Nations knew about the growing humanitarian crisis on our southwest border before the White House did. On March 12, 2014, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched a report titled Children on the Run: Unaccompanied Children Leaving Central America and Mexico and the Need for International Protection.
The report “analyzes the humanitarian impact this insecurity [in Central America] has had on children, forcing them across international borders to seek safety on their own.” The UNHCR stated in conjunction with the March launch, “the US government estimated, and is on track to reach, 60,000 children reaching United States territory this year in search of safe haven.” However, on June 9, a White House official told reporters, “The federal government prepared for this trend,” an official said, “but it was larger than we had anticipated.”
This is not the only instance in which the federal government has misled Americans with regards to the border crisis. Also during the June 9 teleconference with journalists, the White House official downplayed the role that rumors of lax enforcement of immigration laws played in drawing more unaccompanied alien children (UACs) to the border. “If they were coming just for immigration, we’d see kids from other countries” besides Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the officials said, and that “interviews with the children made clear that deteriorating conditions in their homelands was the primary cause.”
But Breitbart News reported that on June 20, the White House admitted rumors of free entry to the United States are motivating migrants to risk the trek northward. White House Director of Domestic Policy Cecilia Muñoz said on a conference call with reporters, “Part of what the Vice President’s effort and the administration’s effort overall is to make sure people have accurate information and that we push back on the misinformation that’s being spread and that’s contributing to this problem.”
A January solicitation, or Request for Information (RFI) by DHS on the federal contracting website FedBizOpps.gov indicated it was looking for companies who could provide escort services for 65,000 UACs to Office or Refugee Resettlement shelters across the United States. The RFI stated, “There will be approximately 65,000 UAC in total: 25% local ground transport, 25% via ICE charter and 50% via commercial air.” Although the number of UACs expected to arrive before the end of the fiscal year has since been adjusted to 90,000, the combination of the UNHCR report and DHS solicitation raise serious doubts about exactly how surprised the White House was about the illegal immigrant surge in south Texas.
According to a press release accompanying the launch, the UNHCR report is based on interviews with more than 400 unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico held in US federal custody. Its intent is to ensure that US immigration officials screen all UACs to determine if they qualify for protection–essentially asylum, or refugee status. The report indicated that approximately 58 percent of UACs from Central America qualify for refugee status.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about the evolution of cross-border migration in her new book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.