Right-wing media ignored immigration experts and blamed President Obama's immigration polices for the recent influx of unaccompanied children apprehended illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. In reality, experts cite increased violence in Central America as the driving factor.
Record Number Of Unaccompanied Children Apprehended Along U.S.- Mexico Border
Federal Officials: Unaccompanied Minors At Border Have Nearly Doubled. According to U.S. Customs & Border Protection, more than 47,000 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended along the southern border so far in fiscal year 2014, nearly double the amount from last year. The agency wrote that "while overall border apprehensions have only slightly increased during this time period, and remain at historic lows ... addressing the rising flow of unaccompanied alien children crossing our southwest border is an important priority of this Administration and the Department of Homeland Security." [U.S. Customs & Border Protection, June 2014]
White House Announced Assistance To Aid Unaccompanied Children
Obama: This "Urgent Humanitarian Situation" Requires A "Unified And Coordinated Federal Response." In a June 2 memorandum, The Obama administration called the influx of unaccompanied minors at the border an "urgent humanitarian situation," announcing plans to dedicate additional funding for a "unified and coordinated Federal response. ... providing humanitarian relief to the affected children, including housing, care, medical treatment, and transportation." [The White House, 6/2/14]
Wall Street Journal: Surge Of Children Will Be Temporarily Sheltered On Military Installations. The Wall Street Journal reported that, according to an assistant secretary at the Department of Health & Human Services, the department "has asked the Pentagon for help in housing the influx of unaccompanied children. In response, the Defense Department has made available facilities at military bases in San Antonio, and Ventura County, Calif., where HHS contractors feed, provide medical care and offer some education for the children." [The Wall Street Journal, 6/2/14]
Right-Wing Media Ignore Plan To Falsely Call It A Move For "Amnesty"
Fox's Laura Ingraham: This Is An Attempt To "Extort Members Of Congress" Into Supporting Immigration Reform. Appearing on the June 10 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Ingraham claimed that the "ongoing invasion into our country" was evidence that "the Obama administration has basically put out the welcome mat at the border" that sent the message "come on in, we'll feed you, we'll house you, we'll get you medical care." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/10/14]
Fox's Kilmeade: After Obama's "Unilateral Dream Act Implementation" Children "Are Coming Here... Without Parents." On the June 11 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade blamed the increase in unaccompanied minors caught crossing the border directly on White House policy. Kilmeade claimed, "they are walking up and saying, not running from border guards, they are saying take me, and a lot are saying it's because of the President's unilateral Dream Act implementation that says we are not going to toss kids out if their parents brought them here illegally but know they are coming here without kids, without parents." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/11/14]
Limbaugh: "The Fact That They Are Children Is Not Incidental. ... You Gotta Let Their Parents In." During the June 10 edition of his radio show, Rush Limbaugh argued that Obama decided to "flood the zone" with refugees because he "doesn't like this country" and has "two and a half years to do whatever he wants to do to this country." Limbaugh said that "the fact that they're children is not incidental," adding that once they are admitted, "you gotta let their parents in, don't you?" [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 6/10/14]
Michelle Malkin: "The Latest "Crisis" Is A Wholly Manufactured Byproduct Of White House Administrative Amnesties." In her June 10 syndicated collumn published by the New York Post, Michelle Malkin not only attacked plans to address the crisis but questioned the motivation of aiding children, whom she referred to as "dumping illegals." Malkin claimed that efforts to deal with the influx of minors at the border amounts to a political play "supported by a toxic alliance of ethnic vote-seeking Democrats and cheap-labor-hungry Big Business Republicans." [New York Post, 6/10/14]
Experts Cite Gang Violence, Not Immigration Reform, As Main Culprit Of Increased Border Crossings
Pew: Influx Is Largely Due To Gang Violence In Central America. The Pew Research Center reported that "three of every four unaccompanied children apprehended this year have come from Central America," adding that Honduras, "a nation wracked by gang violence," has seen the most striking increase in refugees:
This year, more than 13,000 unaccompanied Honduran children were apprehended at the U.S. border compared with the 968 children apprehended five years ago. The number of unaccompanied Honduran children apprehended in 2014 so far is already nearly twice as high as all of last year. [Pew Research Center, Fact Tank, 6/10/14]
Wall Street Journal: Most Of The Children Are "Driven By The Dire Economic Conditions And Sustained Violence At Home." Citing experts, The Wall Street Journal explained that "most of the children who HHS cares for are attempting to cross through the Rio Grande Valley and coming from Central America, driven by the dire economic conditions and sustained violence at home." [The Wall Street Journal, 6/2/14]
USA Today: Gang Violence A Driving Factor Behind Refugees. USA Today quoted experts who attributed the dramatic increase in gang violence in Central America as a main factor in forcing children to flee:
Gang violence in El Salvador and in urban areas of Guatemala has escalated dramatically in recent months since a weak truce among rival gangs has evaporated, said Elizabeth G. Kennedy, a Fulbright scholar reached Monday in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador.
"Half of them are fleeing for their lives," she said.
Kennedy, investigating the causes of child migration, has interviewed more than 400 child migrants. For many, Kennedy said, "their decision is: Do I face possible death in migrating or sure death in staying?"
The gang violence "particularly affects youths," said Alison Ramirez, who works on a U.S.-funded violence-prevention project in El Salvador and who frequently visits Honduras and Guatemala. [USA Today, 6/10/14]
Refugees Say Immigration Policy Isn't A Motivating Factor. The Washington Post quoted Caitlin Sanderson, program director at the Esperanza Immigrants Rights Project in Los Angeles, as saying, "Since January we have talked with 600 to 700 unaccompanied children and we ask every single one, 'why did you come to the United States?' ... I have not come upon one intake form that says, 'because of a rumor that says I can stay here.'" [The Washington Post, 6/6/14]
Children Apprehended By Border Patrol Still Face Deportation Proceedings
Mother Jones: Children From Central America Are Placed In Temporary Shelter Until Their Deportation Proceeding. Mother Jones reported that "those coming from Mexico are taken straight back across. The rest are referred to the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement (rather than being put in immigration detention with adults) and placed in temporary shelters while their deportation proceedings get under way." [Mother Jones, July 2014]