Republicans in the House and Senate are accusing the Obama administration’s lax enforcement of immigration laws for being the catalyst for the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors flooding U.S. borders, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Even the White House, which initially fingered rising Central American gang violence as the catalyst, has since acknowledged that the children believe that if they can get here, they will be permitted to stay, the Journal reports, noting that administration officials blame "unethical child smugglers" for the misinformation.
According to the Los Angeles Times
, the GOP and other critics of the White House's response to the crisis, maintain that the rumors stem from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known asm DACA, an executive order issued by the president allowing children who immigrated illegally to delay deportations.
Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, took the administration to task on the House floor last week, saying the United States is "essentially incentivizing the flow of this population by not returning the unaccompanied juveniles to their countries of origins quickly. Indeed, once they arrive in the United States, we try to find sponsors for them in this country, and they effectively stay here permanently."
The number of children who have crossed the border illegally has more than doubled, perhaps tripled, since 2013, when immigration officials processed 25,000 minors, according to the Journal.
While the White House projects that figure will reach 60,000 this year, an internal memo penned by Border Patrol Chief Ronald D. Vitiello
estimates it will actually be 90,000.Vitiello’s memo, obtained by The Washington Times, projects the number to surge to 142,000 in 2015.
In an effort to "mollify" Republicans, according to NBC News,
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told a House panel this week that 115 Customs and Border Protection agents will be added in South Texas and the agency is considering adding 150 more Border Patrol agents.
At the hearing, Committee Chairman Mike McCaul, a Texas Republican, said the crisis has been "in the making for years" and "one we should have seen coming." The White House policy of giving children benefits and failing to enforce the laws have led to the dire situation, he said.
The law requires unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border be taken into custody and placed with someone who can care for them, typically a family in the U.S., while their deportation proceedings unfold, a process that can take years, according to the Journal.
Overwhelmed with the sheer numbers of illegal border-crossers, Johnson testified that his agency is looking for more places to house adults with children.
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