In order to prevent unaccompanied children from trying to cross the border into the United States, the White House plans “to be as clear as possible about the law and about what the consequences are for making a decision like that,” President Obama’s spokesman said, although he acknowledged to reporters some uncertainty as to whether the children would be sent back to their home countries.
“I think one thing that we can do is to be as clear as possible about the law and about what the consequences are for making a decision like that,” White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said when asked how Obama plans to dispel rumors that children sent to the United States will be allowed to settle in the country. To that end, he said that Obama’s decision not to enforce immigration laws that pertain to children who would qualify for the DREAM Act had the bill been passed into law should not give children outside the country the impression that they can immigrate.
“Those individuals are not eligible for the deferred action, executive action that was announced a couple years ago,” Earnest said.
The Defense Department is helping house the children. “Unaccompanied children arriving in the United States is a growing problem, Health and Human Services officials said,” the Armed Forces Press Service noted. “Department officials anticipate 60,000 of them will arrive in the country this year, up from 6,560 in fiscal year 2011. Rising levels of violence in Central America is driving most of the growth, HHS officials said.”
HHS’ explanation, that the children are fleeing violence in Central America, comports with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which wants the children admitted as refugees. “This is a humanitarian crisis born out of the growing violence in Central America,” the New York Times quotes Bishop Eusebio Elizondo as saying. “These children are refugees who deserve the protection of our nation. They should not be viewed as lawbreakers.”
Earnest didn’t say exactly if the children would be returned to their home countries. “The law does require that we render assistance to those children and that is a process that begins with DHS when they are detained,” he said. “And then they go through a process to determine whether they are going to be sent back to another country, how they’ll be sent back to another country, or how that process is otherwise resolved.”