Law & the Courts

Previously Deported Immigrants Can Now Enter the U.S. on Taxpayers’ Dime

Border Patrol agents apprehend illegal immigrants. (John Moore/Getty)
They can also receive a wide variety of federal benefits once they arrive.

In 2014, unaccompanied alien children from Central America walked across America’s southern border in droves. This year, the U.S. government will pay for unaccompanied alien children to be flown into the country, even if they were convicted of a felony, and furnish them with federal benefits to boot.

It sounds outlandish, so how is it happening? It’s called the In-Country Refugee/Parole Program for Central American Minors, and the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security introduced it on November 14, 2014. They promised it would not become “a pathway for undocumented parents to bring their children to the United States,” but it appears that’s not the case. The program not only creates a pathway for Central American children to reunite with their newly amnestied parents, it also pays their travel costs and ensures them federal benefits. The program is open to any unmarried child under age 21 in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, provided they have a parent lawfully present in the U.S. If the children fail to qualify as refugees, they may be admitted as parolees, which will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

RELATED: Obama’s Other Executive Action on Immigration

The Department of Homeland Security acknowledged on an invitation-only conference call last week that it was willing to accept people into the program who have previously been deported. “They are able to apply for a waiver for the inadmissibility,” a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official said on the call. “It’s the I-602 process,” the official said, referring to waivers filed by refugees previously determined to be inadmissible to the United States. The official added that “the waiver authority for the refugee program is quite broad.”

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, says the Obama administration should rename the project “the MS-13 Reunification Program,” because of the number of MS-13 gang members who could potentially take advantage of the program.

“These are people who are otherwise completely unqualified to be admitted to the United States, and so they’ve created this bogus new refugee designation,” Vaughan says. “Since they’re ‘refugees’ they don’t have to pay the fees that anybody else would have to pay as a legal immigrant.”

RELATED: Report: More Than 2,000 Illegal Immigrant Children Are Arriving Each Month in 2015

#related#The cost of the program and its impact inside the U.S. are not yet fully known. Dan Langenkamp, a State Department spokesman, tells National Review that the Central Americans will travel to the U.S. on commercial flights and be given a travel loan for the cost of the flight that they will be required to repay. Parolees, he says, will be required to pay for their trips up front. “Each person is provided initial services and support by the U.S. Department of State equivalent to $1,975,” Langenkamp says in an e-mail. “Additional transitional benefits are provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, as they are for other newly arrived refugees.”

But Foggy Bottom appears to be sending applicants to the refugee program a different message. On last week’s conference call, a State Department official said applicants would not need to worry about the cost of participating in the program. “I’d just like to reiterate with this family-reunification program there is no cost other than the DNA testing that the parent must front,” the official said. “This program has been operational since December 1st and we stand by to accept more applications.”

RELATED: The Amnesty Numbers Game: A Case Study in Politicized Statistics

Regardless of whether the refugees and parolees will pay for their travel, the government will provide them with federal support once they arrive. That support consists largely of basic resettlement and placement services, which include airport reception; housing and basic household needs; food or food allowance; assistance in enrolling in benefits and services; assistance in accessing health-screening and medical services; and assistance in enrolling children in school, orientation, and home visits.

Ryan Lovelace is a William F. Buckley Jr. Fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More