President Barack Obama’s decision to invite Central American relatives of traditionally unqualified immigrants — including the illegal immigrants protected by his executive amnesty — to the United States is unlawful and will worsen the tide of migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border, says Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
“With the stroke of a pen, the Obama Administration intends to circumvent statutory law at the behest of the open-borders lobbyists and extremists within the Democratic Party,” Sessions said Wednesday.
“The Immigration and Nationality Act sets forth very specific requirements and procedures through which family members may immigrate to this country, and many thousands abide by those laws and wait in line every year,” he added.
The State Department unveiled the Central American Minors program in 2014 in response to the surge of Central American unaccompanied minors and “family units” illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The program allows many categories of immigrant parents — including illegal immigrants granted executive amnesty — to have the U.S. government bring their minor children living in El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras into the United States.
The categories of migrants allowed to bring in their foreign children, under Obama’s program, include lawful permanent residents, and legal or illegal immigrants with Temporary Protected Status, parole, withholding of removal, deferred action, and deferred enforced departure.
Under Obama’s expansion of the program announced Tuesday, the same categories of immigrant parents living in the U.S. may send for more Central American relatives. The wide set of relatives will include their children over the age of 21; the biological parent of a qualified child; and the caregivers of their minor children who are related to them, like aunts, grandparents, uncles, etc.
“This will only encourage more lawlessness, exacerbate the current situation at our border, and erode public confidence in the integrity of our immigration system,” Sessions said. “So, too, will irresponsible calls for universal amnesty undermine the system’s proper operation.”
Sessions office notes that not even U.S. citizens are not allowed to petition for distant relatives to come to the U.S. based just on familial relationships, much less illegal immigrants granted executive amnesty or other special protections.
In recent years the U.S.-Mexico border has seen a surge in illegal immigration from Central America. Since FY 2014, Border Patrol has apprehended an estimated 152,000 unaccompanied minors, plus many more children and adults in “family units.” So far, the vast majority of the migrants have been allowed to remain in the United States.
“What is needed now, more than ever, is strong, decisive leadership and a commitment to the execution of the laws on the books to convey the clear message to the world that if you come to the U.S. illegally, you will be removed,” Sessions said.