Fact Check: Obama Wrongly Insists 2016 Central American Migration is Less Than 2014 Migration


President Barack Obama was factually incorrect when he insisted at an Oct. 18 Rose Garden press conference that the migration of Central Americans into the United States had declined from 2014 to 2016.

He made his incorrect claim as he rebuked a Washington Post reporter who shouted a question about 2016 migration numbers at the tail end of a press conference with Italy’s prime minister. The reporter asked Obama to comment about the increased inflow of Central American migrants.

“No, actually, David, they spiked heavily in 2014, went down significantly in 2015, have gone back up this year, in part because there’s still desperation in Central America, but are still not at the levels they were in 2014,” Obama said to the Washington Post reporter, David Nakamura.

The data from Obama’s own agency proves him wrong.

Here are the charts released by the Department of Homeland Security, showing the number of migrants who arrived at  the border  in “family units,” or while claiming to “Unaccompanied Alien Children,” younger than 18.


The total 2016 inflow from the three Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras adds up to 117,200, according to the federal data.

Here are the 2014 numbers, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which add up to 112,749.

Screen Shot 2016-10-18 at 11.13.03 PMSo the 2016 inflow of 117,200 is larger than the 2014 inflow of 112,749.

The increase from 2014 to 2016 means that Obama was incorrect when he claimed that “No, actually, David, they spiked heavily in 2014 … have gone back up this year … but are still not at the levels they were in 2014.”

The 2014 inflow was a shock to Washington and the public, and it helped derail the so-called “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” push by progressive and business groups.

Obama’s error may have been caused by the department’s standard practice of displaying the inflow of Mexicans alongside alongside the inflow of Central American migrants. Many reporters have inadvertently commingled the two sets of numbers.

According to a careful reading of the DHS reports, 21,264 Mexican “UACs” and members of “family units” were detained at the border in 2014. Many or all chose to be apprehended by the border patrol in the hope of applying for easy asylum rules that Obama is offering to Central American migrants.

But Mexicans are not eligible for Obama’s Central American migration rules, so the number of Mexican migrant “UACs” and family units declined from 21,264 in 2014 down to 15,407 in 2016. That decline was enough to keep the combined 2016 inflow of Mexican and Central American would-be migrants below the 2014 level.

But the Washington Post reporter and Obama were not talking about all migrants — they were talking about only Central American migrants, whose total numbers in 2016 were higher than in 2014.

Here’s the White House transcript of the question and answer, starting with comments from President Obama.

But one area where we have seen a big spike over the last several years is actually from the smaller countries in Central America where the economy is doing poorly; agriculture has done poorly, in part because of changing weather patterns; violence brought on by narco-traffickers. 

 So Vice President Biden, I gave him the charge of working with those countries to come up with a development plan.  Congress, on a bipartisan basis, supported us putting more money into these countries for development, more effective policing, dealing with fighting the narco-traffickers in a more effective way, investing in young people.  But that’s not going to happen overnight.  That will be a decade-long process, potentially. 

In the meantime, we insist that those countries cooperate with us to send a message to the populations that it is a dangerous trip to reach the United States, and if you get here, you’re likely to be turned back, to try to discourage this dangerous passage but also to try to undermine the human traffickers who are preying on the desperation of these people to make money...

      Q    Central Americans, numbers have — 

     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  That’s what I just said.  I said Central America — they’ve increased, David.  Why —

     Q    I was wondering if you could comment about whether (inaudible) policy.

     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  No, actually, David, they spiked heavily in 2014, went down significantly in 2015, have gone back up this year, in part because there’s still desperation in Central America, but are still not at the levels they were in 2014. 

 But I appreciate you shouting out a question, since I’m sure there are a lot of other colleagues of yours who would want to do the same.  (Laughter.)

      Thank you very much, everybody.  Appreciate it.

Before Obama changed the migration rules in 2010 and 2011, Central American migrants who tried to sneak across the border were routinely sent home by the border patrol. Since Obama quietly changed the rules, migrants from Central American — chiefly El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — are now welcomed across the border to legally begin the years-long process of requesting asylum, and are sent to local bus stations so they move to cities around the nation.

While they’re waiting for their court dates in 2017, 2018, 2019 or later, Obama allows the migrants to compete against Americans for jobs and also to crowd into already-failing American schools in California and Maryland, Massachusetts and Colorado, and many other states. Obama has even set up a process where additional Central Americans can apply to the local U.S. embassy for approval to migrate into the United States.

Obama is a progressive, and he has repeatedly said that Americans have no moral or legal right to restrict migration, and he has repeatedly said that migrants make America better.

But he knows his migration is deeply unpopular, so he’s only offering the asylum deal to Central Americans under the media-magnified claim that they’re fleeing violence. In contrast, the cross-border flow of Mexicans has been kept down, in part, because they’re not supposed to be allowed file for asylum. For example, the number of Mexican youths who crossed the border in 2014 was 15,634, and was just 11,926 in 2016.

Roughly speaking, if all of the Central American migrants are granted asylum, they will cost American taxpayers more than $192 billion over the next 75 years. Those costs include welfare, wage subsidies and K-12 education for the migrants’ children. Very few of the Central American migrants have useful skills for a high-tech economy.

Note: This Breitbart editor has also shouted an immigration question during a Rose Garden event. The question was asked when Obama announced his decision in June 2012 to grant work-permits to almost 1 million younger illegal immigrants, during an economic slowdown that had forced many Americans out of the job market. The question asked was “Why do you prefer foreigners over American workers?



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