Unimaginable Human Tragedy On The Texas Border by Gary D. Halbert
FORECASTS & TRENDS E-LETTER
June 17, 2014
Unimaginable Human Tragedy On The Texas Border
IN THIS ISSUE:
1. The Inhumane Immigration Disaster in South Texas
2. Border Patrol Detention Centers Are Overwhelmed
3. How Do These Young Illegal Immigrants Get Here?
4. Did Obama Administration Allow This to Happen?
5. Conclusions – Even the Left is Starting to Criticize
The Inhumane Immigration Disaster in South Texas
Thousands of illegal immigrants are flooding across the border into Texas and other border states every day, but two things distinguish this wave from earlier illegal immigration waves.
First, Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans now make up about 75-80% of illegals caught in South Texas, whereas previously most people who crossed the border illegally originated in Mexico. Second, large numbers of these illegal migrants are unaccompanied children.
The number of children making these journeys by themselves has doubled each year since 2010. US authorities estimate that between 60,000 and 80,000 children will seek safe haven in the US this year, up from about 6,000 in 2011.
Some immigrant rights agencies project that number could soar to 130,000 next year. That’s more than all the people who came over from Cuba during the Mariel boatlift in 1980, which would make this the largest refugee crisis on US soil.
Some of the children are as young as four. Many have notes pinned to their shirts giving authorities a name and phone number or address of a relative or some other contact in the US. Others have nothing in the way of a US contact.
The situation was deemed so urgent by the Obama administration that on June 2 the White House issued a presidential memorandum directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish an interagency “Unified Coordination Group.” The group is to be created, stated President Obama, in “response to the influx of unaccompanied alien children across the Southwest border.”
California Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, expressed concern on Fox News last week that the mass migration of children trying to cross our border could result in fatalities. “This flood is going to mean children dying trying to get in,” said Issa.
He added, “And more important, children coming here with the anticipation that somehow they’re going to be granted citizenship, and then they will bring the rest of their family … that’s a false narrative.” The question is, why do they believe that? More on that below.
Texas Border Patrol Detention Centers Overwhelmed
The explosive increase in the number of illegal migrants coming over the border over the past several months – especially the number of children traveling without their parents – has overwhelmed the Border Patrol’s detention centers in South Texas, prompting officials to ship the children to converted warehouses and military bases as far away as Arizona and California.
During the past eight months, Customs and Border Protection has detained 47,000 unaccompanied minors, most of them in the Rio Grande Valley area of South Texas. This is an increase of 92% from the same period during the previous fiscal year.
“We’re fighting a losing battle right now,” said Chris Cabrera, the Border Patrol’s union representative in McAllen, Texas. “We don’t have anywhere to hold them.”
These shocking photos show child immigrants crammed inside cages and tiny rooms at a US government border facility – further highlighting the humanitarian crisis along America’s border with Mexico.
The images were taken at a holding center in Texas which can no longer accommodate large numbers of children and mothers traveling with their kids, forcing the federal government to open more facilities.
The report noted that many of the migrants – especially women and children – are not trying to sneak into the country but are crossing the border in plain sight of Border Patrol agents.
While illegal aliens from Mexico can be processed fairly quickly and sent back across the border, the situation for illegals from Central America is far more complicated. The laws are different for citizens of contiguous countries who cross the border. Unaccompanied children from Mexico and Canada are repatriated unless they are determined to be victims of trafficking.
But with non-contiguous countries, children are taken into US custody. Federal law says minors cannot be held at a Border Patrol facility for more than 72 hours. They have to be processed and then either sent to live with a relative in the United States or released to a shelter operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which falls under the Department of Health and Human Services.
The refugee office operates about 100 permanent shelters for unaccompanied minors, said spokesman Kenneth Wolfe. Right now, they are filled to capacity. The surge in children crossing the border has forced authorities to open three temporary shelters at military bases – Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, Fort Sill in Oklahoma and Naval Base Ventura County in California.
If the refugee has no relative or other contact in the US, then the government must first clear their return with consular officials from their native country and then charter planes to fly them home. If the aliens request asylum in the United States, on the grounds that they fear persecution in their home countries, they must establish that their fears are credible.
Of course, any attempt to deal with this massive increase in illegal immigration and the notable changes in the nature of the migration – the shift from Mexico to Central America and the marked increase in unaccompanied children – must address the root causes of these changes in migration patterns.
A good place to start might be to study the sheer logistics of moving thousands of underage young people – practically all of whom come from homes too poor to own motor vehicles – all the way from Central America to the US border.
How Do These Young Illegal Immigrants Get Here?
In doing the research for today’s letter, I was struck by how little information is available about how, logistically, do these tens of thousands of refugees actually get here from Central America. The distance to South Texas from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador is roughly 1,800 miles and includes some rough terrain.
The assumption is that most of them walk. But let’s think about that. Even though most of them are young people, it’s difficult to think that they could walk 40 miles a day on average. But even if they did, with no interruptions, that would take 45 days. If they averaged only 30 miles a day, then we’re talking 60 days to get here.
And that means 45 or 60 days with adequate food and water. You can’t carry that in a backpack! I just don’t buy it. These tens of thousands of mostly young people had to have help along the way.
So the question no one seems to raise, not to mention answer, is how these thousands of children from poor areas of Central America manage to find their way – en masse – about 1,800 miles through Mexico’s rough roads to arrive in South Texas. While we cannot determine who is coordinating and assisting with their efforts, it is obvious that these children did not accomplish this Herculean feat all on their own.
There are stories about young Hondurans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans paying large sums of cash ($5,000-$10,000) to alien smuggling organizations known as “coyotes” to transport them through Mexico to near the US border.
While such smuggling groups do exist, it’s not likely that most of the refugees have that kind of money. According to interviews with hundreds of these refugees by Border Patrol agents here in Texas, most come from families that are very poor.
Andy Ramirez, a recognized national expert on border security who has testified before Congress, recently stated the following:
“…there is no way this flood of illegal aliens could’ve been accomplished by mere children, let alone small alien smuggling organizations. This is a major operation that requires logistical support… Therefore, it has to be well organized, like a military type operation, and only a government can accomplish such a thing.”
While I could not find any proof that most of these refugees have been bussed across Mexico to near the US border, I strongly suspect this is the case. The question is, who orchestrated and paid for this mass movement of tens of thousands of people from Central America?
One theory is that Mexico, with its ultra-strict immigration laws, is shipping these people to our border. Another theory is that the drug cartels in Mexico are bringing them here. I will update you when better information is available.
Did the Obama Administration Allow This to Happen?
It’s no secret that President Obama and the Democrats want to liberalize US immigration policies and allow millions more aliens into this country. They believe that most of these immigrants will end up on the government dole and will dependably vote for Democrats.
Not only does President Obama want more liberal immigration laws, he refuses to enforce some of the existing laws. Among those questioning the Obama administration’s immigration policies is Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has charged that the crisis is a “direct consequence” of President Obama’s policies. Cruz recently charged:
“The [refugees’] parents think, ‘If I send my child [to the US], my child will have amnesty.’ That’s what the president of the US has said. It is the exact opposite of a humane approach to immigration or to securing our borders.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest dismissed Cruz’s allegations, saying he would “not put a lot of stock in the ability of Republican members of Congress to divine the thoughts and insights of children in Central American countries.”
Cruz is not the only one criticizing President Obama for his lax immigration policies. Senator Jeff Sessions (R- AL) has warned for years that the administration’s easing of immigration enforcement would create a crisis along the border. He recently stated:
“President Obama is responsible for this calamity… The rising crisis at the border is the direct and predictable result of actions taken by President Obama…Only by declaring to the world that our border is no longer open – and that the law will be restored – can this emergency be stopped.”
Even the US Border Patrol has unwittingly joined in the criticism. According to portions of an internal memo obtained by Fox News last week, a high-ranking official with Customs and Border Protection wrote late last month that current policies are serving as an incentive for more to cross. Border Patrol Deputy Chief Ronald D. Vitiello wrote in the May 30 memo:
“If the U.S. government fails to deliver adequate consequences to deter aliens from attempting to illegally enter the U.S., the result will be an even greater increase in the rate of recidivism and first-time illicit entries.”
Among the policies that allegedly are creating a magnet for illegal immigrants is what’s known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” This unilateral policy that President Obama enacted by Executive Order in 2012 allows some illegal immigrants who came to the US as children to defer deportation. Among other criteria, they must have come to the US before they were 16 years old, be younger than 31 on June 15, 2012, have been in the country since at least June 15, 2007 and have no criminal history.
The Obama administration extended that program earlier this month, allowing the immigrants to apply for protection from deportation for another two years. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said in a statement that the extension and changes would “proactively invite fraud and abuse.”
In December, a US District Court judge in Texas also claimed that federal agents were intercepting human smugglers transporting children at the US/Mexico border – and then delivering those children to illegal immigrant parents in the US.
Judge Andrew Hanen’s order claimed the Obama administration was engaging in a risky practice by delivering some children to their illegal parents. He argued that the practice would only encourage more parents to have their children smuggled over the border through operations often connected to the drug cartels. He concluded: “These actions are both dangerous and unconscionable. “
Further, the administration for years has prioritized deportations to focus on those who commit crimes or pose other threats. Immigration officials have argued that they’re simply making the best use of limited resources. But more and more lawmakers – including some Democrats of late – warn that the policies further incentivize people to cross the border illegally.
In the latest policy announcement, the Obama administration is now seeking young lawyers to help provide legal assistance to alien children in immigration proceedings. Officials say about 100 lawyers and paralegals will be enrolled as members of AmeriCorps in a new division called “Justice AmeriCorps.” It’s a partnership between the Justice Department and the agency that administers AmeriCorps. Further, the White House is seeking an additional $2 billion to handle the wave of unaccompanied children making the trek to the US, largely from Central America.
Conclusions – Even the Left is Starting to Criticize
It should be clear to anyone reading this that, with the exception of the criminals (and how do they know who they are), the Obama administration wants these illegal immigrants to remain in the US, despite the human tragedy they must endure in South Texas and elsewhere.
In fact, some left-leaning groups are coming to the same conclusions. I’ll end today’s letter with some quotes from none other than CNN, which rarely criticizes President Obama:
“Many blame the Obama administration for fostering a misconception that if you are a child who ends up in America illegally, you will get a free pass to stay. ‘Word has gotten out around the world about President Obama’s lax immigration enforcement policies, and it has encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally, many of whom are children from Central America,’ said [Rep. Bob] Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Obama’s critics blame policies such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which offers relief for certain undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. [Jeh] Johnson, the Homeland Security Secretary, suggested that Central American families believe that their undocumented children may be spared from U.S. deportation under DACA, even though those arriving now do not meet the eligibility criteria.
Immigrant families also may be assuming their undocumented children would someday be eligible for a proposed pathway to citizenship, Johnson said. But current immigration reform proposals don’t make such offers. ‘Those apprehended at our border are priorities for removal,’ Johnson said. ‘They are priorities for enforcement of our immigration laws regardless of age.’ [Unfortunately, this is not true.]
Sgt. Dan Broyles, a deputy constable in Hidalgo County, Texas, said he has been helping Border Patrol agents for decades and has never seen anything like the current crisis. ‘We’re not having to chase them down anymore,’ he said. ‘They come over here and they want to get caught. They make no quarrels about getting caught.’
Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia called the surge in children an ‘administration-made disaster.’ [Emphasis added.]
Remember that the comments highlighted above are from the left-leaning CNN, not me.
In closing, my greatest fear is that with our Border Patrol so overwhelmed and so focused on these tens of thousands of children flooding our border, dangerous members of al Qaeda or other groups will be able to slip across our borders and carry out more horrific terrorist acts. But that’s a discussion for another time.
Feel free to share today’s letter with anyone you wish.
Gary D. Halbert