DAVID GREGORY: You heard the mayor of Murrieta, “Why now? Why so many?” Is part of the answer that the administration, through some of its executive actions, have said, in effect, “Look, if you come, we’re going to let you in?”
SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON: First of all, David, the reason we’re seeing this influx has to do primarily with the conditions in the three Central American countries that they’re leaving from, the push factor.
DAVID GREGORY: More than– and it’s double, though?
DAVID GREGORY: Could it be 90,000 this year?
SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON: Honduras is in a really bad place right now. El Salvador, Guatemala. The push factor is what is driving this recent influx. In addition, we know that the smuggling organizations, the criminal smuggling organizations, are putting out a lot of disinformation about supposed ‘free passes’ into this country that are going to expire at the end of May, at the end of June. “Just give us your money and we’ll get you into the country by the end of the month.” It’s like a used car salesman saying that the sale’s going to expire at the end of the week.
DAVID GREGORY: But that’s not all misinformation, Mr. Secretary. There is deferred action on some children, passed in 2012, that will allow some children of illegal immigrants to stay.
SECRETARY JEH JOHNSON: Well, that’s the point we keep stressing. The deferred action program is for kids who came to this country seven years ago. It’s not for anyone who comes to this country today, tomorrow or yesterday. And the legislation that the Senate passed, which provides for an earned path to citizenship, is for those who were in this country in 2011. It’s not for those that are coming here today.
Obama administration officials deny that lenient policies — including a 2012 program that allowed immigrants who had entered the country illegally as minors before June 2007 to apply for deportation deferrals — have encouraged the sudden surge.
They instead blame a 2008 law signed by Bush that made it nearly impossible to repatriate unaccompanied minors to Central America without letting them appear before an immigration judge.
A mounting backlog in immigration courts since then has allowed most Central American minors to stay for years while their cases wend their way through the legal system. Once they are assigned to social workers, as the law requires, the overwhelming majority are sent to live with their parents or relatives in the United States, officials said. Organized crime groups in Central America have exploited the slow U.S. legal process and the compassion shown to children in apparent crisis, according to David Leopold, an immigration attorney in Cleveland.
He said smugglers, who may charge a family up to $12,000 to deliver a child to the border, often tell them exactly what to say to American officials.
"The cartels have figured out where the hole is," he said.(snip)
The sudden surge has surprised officials because illegal immigration has fallen sharply overall. Experts attribute the drop to fewer job opportunities in the U.S. and to the doubling in size of the Border Patrol since 2004, which has made the crossing more dangerous and expensive.
But that isn't always the case. The 2008 law signed by Bush expanded legal protections for young migrants. The changes were intended to prevent immigration officials from inadvertently sending them back to pimps and drug violence. (snip)
The law, for example, expanded the ability of children who were abused or abandoned to be granted "special immigrant juvenile status" to stay in the country, and to eventually apply for lawful permanent residency.
Called the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, the 2008 law was named for the English abolitionist who championed the bill in Parliament that ended the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807.
The U.S. law, which sought to crack down on modern-day slavery and the trafficking of children, passed easily by a voice vote in Congress with broad support from both parties. Bush signed it shortly before he left office in January 2009.
Former U.S. Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Valley Village), who served from 1983 to 2013, was one of the sponsors of the 2008 law, and defended it this week as necessary to protect children. He blamed the violence in parts of Central America for the influx of children, and said he wasn't sure whether the law needed to be changed.
"What do you do with the ones that come from Central America? Do you load them all on a plane and see who comes and meets them at the airport?" Berman asked in a telephone interview.
WE have a crisis right now, and I understand that opinions are strong and heated on all sides of what is happening, but there is a reality here. These are children; these are human beings. While people like Rick Perry make the absurd claim that this issue is part of a grand Obama Conspiracy this is a real humanitarian crisis that has been building for years.
USCRI: When you set out to do this documentary, what were you hoping to accomplish?
RC: When you make this kind of film, you want to change the world in a way. You want to make a big impact. And I had three major goals. One was to create a document that allows the U.S. public to really see what's going on and then think about the immigration issue much deeper and make a decision about how they feel about it. But an informed decision. Don't have some pundit just talk at you and tell you what to feel. See the film, look at it, experience it, ask questions, and maybe the U.S. public will come away with a deeper understanding. That's number one. Number two, a film like this has to work toward educating and informing people, including the highest levels of government and law makers. (…) I wanted whatever administration was in to see this film, to learn from it, and to use it as a tool for positive, humane immigration reform. And the third goal was (to inform) families in Central America and Mexico who don’t necessarily understand how dangerous the trip really is. (The documentary) is a prevention campaign in a way... Families can see the film and go, 'Oh, yes, it does seem dangerous. Maybe I will not let the smugglers take my child, or maybe 'I won't let the child go off by themselves.' So that's another goal of the film. To inform rural and indigenous populations about how dangerous (the journey north) is and that they should think twice about what to do.
The bolded part brings me back to the likes of people like David Gregory, who - when informed of the facts of this very bad situation - choose to ignore the information given to him. Instead he repeated the information he was corrected about. It perpetuates mistruths. Watch the video at this link (I cannot embed it here, unfortunately). I won't deny for one minute that this is a heated and deeply divisive problem, but I think it's up to people to understand the underlying issues that allowed this to happen.
"Don't have some pundit just talk at you and tell you what to feel."
Lost in all of this chatter is that many, many of these children were actually apprehended. They're in the custody U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Our border security is actually working. If people want it to work better, it is time to pass meaningful immigration reform. The is a human rights issue as much as it is a matter of national security. Instead of being told that, we are fed a steady stream of what basically boils down to right-wing propaganda. The people making the money off of crises like this, people like Gregory, Hannity (hell all of FOX "News", for that matter) know this. They profit off of this. They tell those who are so adamant against "illegals coming to this country" that they are the true and real patriotic Americans. They create bogey men. This generally comes from a political corner of our nation that used to claim the mantel of personal responsibility, the GOP. Someone pointed this out to me stating "they are so far gone now they don't even try to stake that high ground, they just have become relentlessly obsessed over OTHER PEOPLE'S responsibility, at least what THEY think other people should be responsible for."
It's become mean-spirited and reactionary. They feel victimized by the government and in many cases, liberals (see this story: Conservatives Are Purposely Making Their Cars Spew Black Smoke To Protest Obama And Environmentalists). Too many people in this country believe they are victims and justify hating (for lack of a better word) the "other" for their own indulgences and the guilt that sometimes creates. Too many people in the media fans the flames of ignorance that prevents a real and honest discussion about the problems we really do have, in this case, thousands - literally thousands - of children coming over the border without family.
No one even knows how many children died or were sold in sex trafficking or other atrocities along the way.
Watch the documentary Which Way Home. Have your friends watch it, and let's have a real discussion about this - not the one the talking heads want you to have. They want to divide, they profit mightily from it.