Penny Starr, CNS News, June 13, 2014
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the wide range of services the government is providing to unaccompanied minors who cross the border into the U.S. illegally will not encourage more of them to break the law.
At a press conference on Thursday at Customs and Border Protection headquarters in Washington, CNSNews.com asked Johnson whether giving these children everything from transportation to housing, health care, education and even legal representation, is an incentive for more “unaccompanied minors” to come to this country.
“I would say no,” Johnson said. He noted that these children, most from Central America, are not eligible for the two-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program–recently renewed for two more years–that give temporary legal status to people who came to the U.S before they turned 16; have continuously lived in the U.S. from 2007 to the present; and who entered the U.S. before June 2012.
“Frankly, it is also hazardous to send a child into south Texas to a processing center. A processing center–and a number of us here have seen them ourselves–are no place for children,” Johnson said. “And to put a child into the hands of a criminal smuggling organization is not safe either.
“So, yes, we provide a number of things for children when we find them because the law requires it and because our values require it,” Johnson said. “But it is not safe; it is not a desirable situation, and I would encourage no parent to send their child, or send for their child, through this process.”
By law, HHS and its various divisions must provide for the custody and care of unaccompanied alien children.
The services include classroom education, mental and medical health services, case management, socialization and recreation, and “family reunification,” which facilitates the child’s release to a relative or other sponsors.
The Obama administration says violence in Central America is largely responsible for the flood of children illegally pouring into the Rio Grande Valley, but others, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama), say the problem is a direct result of President Obama’s executive orders relaxing U.S. immigration policy–specifically, DACA.
“[M]idway through 2012 was when administration unilaterally granted amnesty to some 800,000 people who had been minors, with the so-called DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] proceeding,” Cruz told Johnson at a Senate hearing earlier this week. “And you can see, sometime after that, the numbers (of unaccompanied minors) spike dramatically.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) says the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border “is the direct and predictable result of actions taken by President Obama. He and his Administration have announced to the world that they will not enforce America’s immigration laws, and have emphasized in particular that foreign youth will be exempted from these laws. The world has heard the President’s call, and illegal immigrants are pouring across the border in pursuit of his promised amnesty.
“President Obama is responsible for this calamity,” Sessions said, “and only by declaring to the world that our border is no longer open–and that the law will be restored–can this emergency be stopped.”