Illegal immigration exploded shortly after President Barack Obama issued an executive order halting some deportations.
In fiscal years 2000 through 2011, fewer than 4,000 “unaccompanied alien children” from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were apprehended at the border each year. That jumped to 10,146 in FY 2012, doubled to 20,805 in FY 2013 and has doubled again this year.
The UACs — some of whom may be wearing tennis shoes adorned with Mr. Obama’s picture, according to DMLDaily.com — come because they think they’ve been invited. President Obama “is helping us,” a little boy told a reporter for the Fox News affiliate in Detroit. “All Guatemalans can come to the United States and stay.”
The little boy is mostly right. Of 47,397 UACs apprehended at the border between 2009 and 2013, just 3,525 (7.4 percent) have been ordered to leave the country.
The government spends $252 per child per day to care for the 52,193 UACs apprehended from Oct. 1 through the middle of June, a Texas congressman told Newsradio WOAI in San Antonio. Not many Americans can spend that much on their children.
The president asked Congress for $1.8 billion “to provide appropriate care for unaccompanied children.” After checking air fares on several websites, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., estimated it would cost as much as $30 million to fly them home.
We have to send them home to slam the door on future illegal immigration. The kids come because they think they’ll be allowed to stay. They’ll keep coming unless and until they’re disabused of that notion.
A law passed in the waning days of the Bush administration prevents the president from sending the UACs back, the White House says.
But the Wilberforce Act — designed to protect children from “severe” forms of child trafficking, such as being brought here to be prostitutes — applies to no more than a handful of the children flooding across the border.
And the law “already provides the administration with flexibility to accelerate the judicial process in times of crisis,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who sponsored it in the Senate, told The New York Times.
Even if it didn’t, if it were legal for the president to ignore immigration law by allowing certain undocumented aliens who‘ve been here since 2007 to stay because they came to the United States as children, he could ignore bothersome restrictions in the Wilberforce Act, too, said Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner.
More UACs, some with infectious diseases, arrive at a rate of about 250 a day. The administration is looking for 180 facilities around the country “to house the flood,” reported WOAI. An overwhelmed Border Patrol no longer keeps a sharp lookout for criminals and terrorists.
Immigration reform has been a “win-win” issue for Democrats. Either Republicans agree to enfranchise millions of likely Democrat voters or get blamed for obstruction. But if this crisis were engineered to blackmail the GOP, it’s backfired.
Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, whose El Paso district is 87 percent Hispanic, told The Washington Post he’s surprised by the anger expressed by many constituents who “feel like we can’t take care of everyone, and these children and their families are gaming the system.”
Just 28 percent of registered voters in New Mexico, 46 percent Hispanic, approve of the president’s handling of the wave of illegals, according to a poll this week.
Some blacks, who’ve suffered more economically during Mr. Obama’s presidency than any other ethnic group, are outraged by how much he plans to spend on the illegals.
“Where can I get asylum?” a lady in Baltimore asked radio host Laura Ingraham. She said she can’t let her children play outside because her neighborhood is so violent.
“All these kids? Why can’t they go back?” asked an African-American mom in Houston. “What about the kids here in our neighborhood?
“Barack will go down as the worst president ever elected,” said a black resident on Chicago’s South Side.
Terry Anderson, a radio talk show host in Los Angeles who is black, said the people he talks to in the black community “all ask me the same question: ‘Why are our politicians and leaders letting this happen?’ ”
Concerns about disease and crime prompted residents in Murieta, California, Lawrenceville, Virginia, and Westminster, Maryland, to oppose, fiercely, efforts to settle UACs there.
The only Democratic pols who’ve criticized Mr. Obama represent border districts overwhelmed by the influx. They may have company soon.
“We’re all becoming border sheriffs now with these people being carted all over the country,” Bristol County, Massachusetts, Sheriff Thomas Hodgson told the Boston Herald.
Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Post-Gazette (firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1476).