A White House ceremony on Tuesday honoring illegal immigrants came under strong attack by conservatives, who charged that such praise by President Barack Obama is behind the overwhelming illegal immigration crisis at the U.S. border.
"Today’s White House celebration, flaunting the success stories of 10 immigrant children who entered the U.S. illegally, is exactly the type of tone-deaf messaging fueling the unprecedented surge of immigrant children being smuggled across our southern border," Michigan Republican Rep. Candice Miller charged in a statement.
"How can we expect to dispel rumors throughout Central America that children who enter America illegally will be allowed to stay, while simultaneously touting the success stories of a few illegal immigrant children granted de facto amnesty by the administration?" she asked. "The sad truth is that most of the children being smuggled across the border today, in unprecedented numbers, will not have similar success stories.
"Instead, tens of thousands of these children are being put at risk of violence, sexual assault and even death," said Miller, who serves as vice chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, told Newsmax in a statement, "At a time when we already have an uncontrollable flood of people illegally entering the United States, President Obama’s decision to hold a White House ceremony honoring illegal immigrants is going to make a bad situation worse.
"Instead of sending a message that people cannot break the law to enter the United States, the president is sending a message that if you work for the same political agenda as the president, you can be honored at the White House, regardless of whether or not you broke the law to get here.
"It is beyond comprehension."
The White House ceremony honored 10 young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and are eligible to remain here under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) legislation that Obama signed into law in 2012 and extended for two more years last week. Obama did not attend the ceremony himself.
Under the legislation, these illegal immigrants — known as "Dreamers" — are shielded from deportation.
Obama honored the 10 on Tuesday as "champions of change" — and they came from Mexico, Colombia, Taiwan, Morocco, the Philippines, and India. They have become "success stories and role models," the White House said in a statement about the ceremony reported by NBC News.
The Dreamers are pursuing higher education in the United States, and many are working on efforts to address immigration issues, including working with the National Immigration Law Center to seek passage of DREAM Act legislation, NBC reports.
Two honorees — Fernanda Zaragoza-Gomez of Colorado and Steven Arteaga Rodriguez of Texas — work in their respective states with the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, an activist group whose goal is "expanding the electorate" through "direct, sustainable citizenship, voter registration, census education, GOTV, and issue organizing in key states," the Daily Caller
The group, with offices in six states, has on its board labor leader Eliseo Medina, who said in 2010 that immigration reform will create a long-term progressive "governing coalition," the Daily Caller reports.
The list of the 10 people honored and their accomplishments, based on the White House statement, was published by Breitbart.com.
Conservatives charged that the ceremony builds on news reports in Central America
that created the impression that Obama's immigration policies reward those who break the law.
U.S. Border Patrol agents have been overwhelmed by millions of illegal immigrants — particularly minors traveling alone — crossing into the country
since the beginning of the year in anticipation of comprehensive immigration reform.
The deluge has strapped resources, led U.S. officials to transport some immigrants from Texas to dump them in other states, and to house thousands of youths at military bases
in Oklahoma, Texas, and California — at an estimated taxpayer cost of $252 per child per day.
Border Patrol officials have also expressed concerns that the vast overcrowding has created ideal conditions for disease outbreaks,
including scabies, chicken pox, lice, cholera, malaria, and digestive track illnesses.
Miller urged the administration to call out the National Guard "to assist our overwhelmed border agents and begin an advertising campaign throughout Central America to tell the people in that region that there has been no change in U.S. law, that if they send their children unaccompanied by their parents to our border they will putting them at grave risk.
"This humanitarian crisis is heartbreaking, and it is only going to get worse unless the White House starts to take it seriously," she said.
Martin said, "Instead of honoring the millions of immigrants who played by the rules to legally earn their U.S. citizenship, the president is disrespecting them — just as he disrespects our laws and seeks to rule by executive fiat.
"This program by which illegal immigrants can avoid deportation was not instituted with the consent of Congress, and is not supported by the rule of law," Martin said of DACA. "It was done with nothing more than the stroke of his pen, and it has to stop.
"President Obama and his administration need to stop ignoring the law and start enforcing it," she added. "We need to secure the border and take appropriate action against those who have broken the law."
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