The reincarnation of Joe McCarthy, demagogue Sen. Ted “Calgary” Cruz of Texas (yes he recently renounced his Canadian citizenship, but a
Canuck is forever), spewed this bit of demagogic bile on Monday. Ted Cruz blames illegal immigration surge on hopes of “amnesty”:
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott held a joint press conference at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio on Monday morning.
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During the press conference, Cruz blamed an executive order signed by President Barack Obama back in June 2012 for creating the current surge of illegal immigration.
President Obama signed an executive order creating the “deferred action” program giving legal to thousands of people who were brought to the United States illegally as children.
Cruz called the executive order and President Obama’s action an act of “lawlessness” that is creating hopes of amnesty and the current spike in illegal immigration.
“We need to follow the law, and we need to attempt to send them back,” Cruz said during the press conference.
We are constantly told by media villagers that Teddy Calgary is a “brilliant” lawyer, so he knows that what he said is a load of crap, designed for consumption by the low information viewers of FAUX News.
Dara Lind at Ezra Klein’s new Vox.com makes some salient observations in 13 facts that help explain America’s child-migrant crisis:
4) Congress set the rules on dealing with child migrants under the Bush Administration
The Obama administration has a lot of executive authority in enforcing immigration law. But when it comes to unaccompanied children, it actually doesn’t have much leeway to change policy. That’s because of a series of laws passed by Congress that set a particular process for unaccompanied child migrants as a way of fighting human trafficking. (These laws reinforced a 1997 government lawsuit settlement that set certain standards for care.) Most of this process was codified by Congress under the Homeland Security Act of 2002; Congress added some additional protections under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, in 2008. [All occurring before Barack Obama was elected president.]
Under those laws, the Border Patrol is required to take child migrants who aren’t from Mexico into custody, screen them, and transfer them to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (a part of the Department of Health and Human Services).
The law tasks HHS with either finding a suitable relative to whom the child can be released, or putting the child in long-term foster care. For more about how that process is supposed to work — and some of the problems with it being overloaded — see here.
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7) Most apprehended child migrants are immediately put into deportation proceedings
On Thursday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that “Those apprehended at our borders are priorities for removal… regardless of age.” That’s just a restatement of existing Obama administration policy — one of the administration’s top three deportation “priorities” is people apprehended by Border Patrol agents within 100 miles of the border.
In practice, what that means is that anyone apprehended by Border Patrol within the border area (unless they qualify for a special process called “expedited removal”) is put in immigration court for “deportation proceedings,” or criminal court to face charges of “illegal entry” or “illegal reentry.”
Thanks to the 2008 law, the process is slightly different for immigrant children. If a Border Patrol agent thinks the child might qualify for asylum in the US, the child is interviewed by an asylum officer first — then, if the asylum claim is rejected, the child is sent into immigration court.
Obama administration official Cecilia Muñoz confirmed to Univisión over the weekend that immigrant children caught crossing the border are put in “deportation proceedings.” (She didn’t mention the exception for asylum.) But that doesn’t mean they’re getting deported quickly. It just means they’re being put in immigration court.
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9) Child migrants entering the US now don’t qualify for “deferred action”
As Secretary Johnson and others have pointed out, unauthorized immigrants who arrive now aren’t eligible for relief under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — despite Republican claims that the DACA program is responsible for the current surge. One of the requirements for DACA is that the immigrant has to have been in the US for at least five years as of 2012 — meaning it’s only open to immigrants who arrived in 2007 or earlier.
10) But about half of them ought to qualify for some form of humanitarian relief
In immigration court, a judge determines whether an immigrant can legitimately apply for legal status, or whether he or she should be deported. This means that deportation proceedings can actually be an opportunity for immigrant children who qualify for some form of humanitarian relief — like asylum or Special Immigrant Juvenile Status — to get it. If they weren’t put in deportation proceedings, in some cases, they’d just remain in the United States as unauthorized immigrants — which isn’t ideal for anyone.
Sec. Johnson has said that immigrant children coming in now aren’t eligible for “an earned path to citizenship” — which could be interpreted to mean that they aren’t eligible for any legal status whatsoever. But under existing immigration law, if they meet standards for humanitarian status because they were persecuted in their home countries, they are eligible to receive it. And experts say that immigration judges aren’t supposed to take comments like Sec. Johnson’s into consideration when considering a child’s case.
A recent report from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says that about 60 percent of children coming over from Central America might be eligible for some kind of humanitarian protection. And a Vera Institute of Justice report from 2012 identified 40 percent of immigrant children as eligible for some sort of legal protection under US immigration law.
But the Vera report is based on numbers from 2010 — predating the current surge — so it’s extremely difficult to tell whether it’s representative of the immigrants crossing today. And there is no available information, even outdated information, showing how many unaccompanied alien children are actually given some sort of legal status in the US; how many of them lose their court cases and are deported or returned to their home countries; and how many simply stop showing up to court and fall between the cracks.
11) It’s not legally possible to deport child migrants more quickly
On Thursday, Secretary Johnson said that he was working with the ambassadors of Central American countries to ensure “faster repatriation.” He also said the government would be sending more immigration judges to work on the removal proceedings of unaccompanied kids, so that those cases could be processed more quickly.
But immigration judges are already short-staffed, and the $1.4 billion the Obama administration has asked Congress for to address the child migrant crisis doesn’t include money for the agency that hires immigration judges.
As for how working with Central American governments could help repatriate kids faster, it isn’t clear. Wendy Young of Kids in Need of Defense says that DHS could be working with Central American officials to staff up Central American consulates in the US, which would make it easier to find family members of unaccompanied immigrant children — either here or in the children’s home countries. But that wouldn’t necessarily lead to “repatriation.”
The only other possible option would be to deport some children via “expedited removal” — which doesn’t require an immigrant to go in front of a judge. But under the 2008 law, unaccompanied children legally aren’t eligible for expedited removal. So if that’s something Sec. Johnson and DHS are considering, it’s unclear how they’re planning to work around that law.
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13) The US needs to address the children already here before focusing on long-term solutions
Much of the debate over the child migrant crisis in Washington hasn’t focused on what to do with the children who are already here, but on what to do to stop children from coming in the future.
Whenever Secretary Johnson has spoken about the child migrant crisis, he’s tried to speak directly to parents in Central America and tell them that their children won’t be safe crossing into the US. And this week, the House Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing on “An Administration Made Disaster: The South Texas Border Surge of Unaccompanied Alien Minors,” which is expected to demonstrate that immigrants are coming over because of the Obama administration’s immigration enforcement policies (and therefore, by implication, that if the administration started deporting even more people the influx would stop).
Even if any of these policies worked, however, none of them address the basic logistics of what to do with child migrants who have already come and are now in US custody, or even with those who are on their way from their home countries now. (The administration asked Congress for $1.4 billion for a multi-agency effort to deal with that side of the issue. But that money hasn’t yet been approved.)
It takes several weeks to cross from Central America through Mexico by train, and the journey through Mexico is dangerous enough that no migrant is likely to stop on the way. The question of what the US can do to handle the children who are already in its care, or coming in the immediate future, might be difficult — but it’s not being addressed, and it’s not going away.
It is disturbing to hear a Cuban-American from Canada (Cuban exiles were given special immigration status after the Cuban revolution — the Castro Express Card — “don’t leave home without it”) talking like a segregationist white supremacist from the White Citizens’ Councils of the 1950s and 1960s in reference to unaccompanied child refugees from Central America.* It is a case of Teddy Calgary closing the door behind him after his family was given a special privilege to enter.
For a more detailed explanation of the legal issues surrounding this humanitarian crisis, see this recent report from the Migration Policy Institute. Dramatic Surge in the Arrival of Unaccompanied Children Has Deep Roots and No Simple Solutions.
Greg Sargent at the Washington Post framed the issue for Republicans in the Morning Plum: GOP’s problems on immigration aren’t going away:
[T]his raises two questions for GOP lawmakers:
1) If you believe that Obama’s current enforcement priorities are to blame for the current crisis, are you saying that we should deport all of the DREAMers?
2) If you believe the failure to deport these kids immediately is to blame for encouraging the surge, are you saying that we should change the law to do away with the requirement that these kids get to present their case in court?
I don’t believe Republicans will answer either of those questions. And that gets to the big picture problem Republicans face, which is that their only response to the broader immigration crisis has been to hint — without saying so directly — that we need maximum deportations, as quickly as possible.
The GOP is “the party of maximum deportations,” and has no interest in a legislative compromise for comprehensive immigration reform. The nativist and racist base of the GOP are in control of the party.
* In an interview with Jeffrey Toobin for the New Yorker, Ted Olson compares Ted Cruz’s gay marriage views to racist miscegenation laws.