it came to election year politics about immigration.
On Monday, Mr. Obama will ask Congress for $2 billion to help his
administration speed deportations of the tens of thousands of families
and unaccompanied minors from Central America now flooding across the
Texas border, according to a New York Times report.
The president had hoped this would be the year that a comprehensive
immigration reform bill at last became law after the Senate passed its
version last summer. At the very least, he hoped to tweak immigration
enforcement through an executive action to make deportations more
humane. Instead, Monday’s move is an acknowledgment that coyotes and
cartels trafficking undocumented immigrants across the U.S. border are
exploiting several U.S. vulnerabilities simultaneously, creating a
Border authorities have fast-track provisions to deport undocumented
Mexican immigrants, largely because the two countries share a border,
making deportation simple. Obama will ask Congress to give the
Department of Homeland Security additional powers to speed
deportations to Central America, since most immigrants in the current
surge are coming from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Until this month, the United States had only one detention center for
families, meaning that many families were freed on their own
recognizance until deportation hearings began. Now, federal officials
have had to open shelters on three military bases for unaccompanied
minors and a new detention center for families in New Mexico.
Administration officials are also acknowledging that misinformation
about White House policy has played a part in the surge. Obama took
executive action in 2012 to allow some undocumented immigrants who
were brought to the US as children to defer deportation for two years.
Since then, the number of undocumented minors has exploded. In the
decade before 2012, the number averaged 7,000 to 8,000 kids a year;
this year, it could be 90,000.
None of the undocumented families or minors coming to the U.S. today
would be eligible for the deferrals. But that would not matter to
Speaking to Central American parents in an interview with ABC News
Thursday, Obama said, “Do not send your children to the borders. If
they do make it, they’ll get sent back. More importantly, they may not
make it.” It was perhaps a more blunt message than Obama would like to
have delivered in an election year — particularly an election year
when the Latino vote could be crucial. Minority groups such as Latinos
historically vote in smaller percentages during midterm elections, but
control of the Senate is in the balance this November.
That is one reason Obama had hoped to take further executive action
this year to soften deportation. Immigration advocates across the
country this weekend rallied to mark one year since the Senate passed
immigration reform — a bill that has gone nowhere in the House.