The Corner

The Wages of Amnesty, Pt. 2

You want to know what would happen if we were to pass something like the Schumer-Rubio amnesty-before-enforcement bill? Take a look at South Texas, where nearly 50,000 unaccompanied juveniles (most of them 15- to 17-year-old boys) have been apprehended by the Border Patrol so far this year, with perhaps 140,000 expected next year. And the number of families with children is even larger. They’re coming in response to this administration’s various de facto amnesties for illegal aliens and its permissive enforcement practices. Passage of Schumer-Rubio would turn the dial up to eleven.

The administration spin has been that this deluge has not been attracted by anything at our end but rather pushed out by increased gang violence in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, where most of these people come from. The problem is that the illegal aliens themselves aren’t saying that.

As a Washington Post story put it Friday, “There is growing evidence that a surge of tens of thousands of Central American minors across the Mexican border into Texas is being driven in large part by the perception they will be allowed to stay under the Obama administration’s immigration policies.​”

The list of such illegal-alien-attracting policies is long. From 2009, this administration has issued a number of policy memos effectively downgrading violation of the immigration law to a secondary offense. In other words, the goal has been to deport only those illegal aliens who have violated some other, ”real,” law, like murder or rape. (And even many criminals have been released.) The result has been, in the words of a recently departed acting head Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “If you are a run-of-the-mill immigrant here illegally, your odds of getting deported are close to zero.”

In addition to that de facto amnesty, the Obama administration enacted — unilaterally, without congressional authorization — a formal amnesty specifically for illegal immigrants who claim to have come before their 16th birthday. Even though virtually all beneficiaries are now adults, the program is called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” and has given ostensibly temporary legal status to more than 500,000 illegal aliens, including work cards, Social Security numbers, and more.

What’s more, the Border Patrol under Obama has delivered illegal-alien juveniles to family members in the U.S., a practice denounced by a federal judge last year as “completing the criminal mission” of human traffickers and assisting a “criminal conspiracy in achieving its illegal goals.” Finally, women traveling with children are routinely being given what amounts to a summons for immigration court and then simply released, sometimes even given free bus tickets. These papers, formally called a Notice to Appear (DHS Form I-862), are referred to by the illegal aliens themselves as “permisos” (permits) allowing them to make their way into the interior of the U.S. — which is exactly what they are.

Imagine the deluge that would follow passage of the Schumer-Rubio amnesty-before-enforcement approach. That bill would legalize the illegal population up front, and promise that immigration security would be improved at some point in the future. Even if the extravagant promises of extra border agents, visa tracking, E-Verify, and the rest were actually kept, they would take years to put into place. In the meantime, new illegals would have a reasonable shot at getting in and lying their way to legal status. They’d be crazy not to try, especially since so much of the immigration agencies’ enforcement resources would be diverted to processing the millions and millions of illegal aliens applying for amnesty.

The lesson from the DREAM Deluge in South Texas: Enforcement First.

Mark Krikorian — Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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