On Immigrant Surge, White House Story Falls Apart

Byron York, Washington Examiner, June 16, 2014


Most of the illegal immigrants [surging at the border] are what Border Patrol officials call OTMs. That is, while they are crossing into the United States from Mexico, they are actually from other countries–in this case, mostly Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador–and are classified as Other Than Mexican immigrants.

Top administration officials have tried to attribute the surge in crossings to violence and poverty in thoe countries. “The situation is motivated primarily by the conditions in the countries that they’re leaving–El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala,” said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnsonin testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday. “Violence, poverty–I believe that is principally what is motivating the situation.”

For its part, the White House dismissed arguments from Republicans that President Obama’s DACA decree–Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allowed thousands of illegal immigrants to stay in this country if they came at a young age–created, in effect, a magnet for young people to try to enter the U.S. illegally. {snip}


{snip} Recent days have been filled with anecdotal reports, from local news outlets in Central America to major American newspapers, citing immigrants who say they came because they believe U.S. law has been changed to allow them to stay. And now comes word that Border Patrol agents in the most heavily-trafficked area of the surge, the Rio Grande Valley sector of Texas, recently questioned 230 illegal immigrants about why they came. The results showed overwhelmingly that the immigrants, including those classified as UACs, or unaccompanied children, were motivated by the belief that they would be allowed to stay in the United States–and not by conditions in their homelands. From a report written by the agents, quoting from the interviews:

The main reason the subjects chose this particular time to migrate to the United States was to take advantage of the “new” U.S. “law” that grants a “free pass” or permit (referred to as “permisos”) being issued by the U.S. government to female adult OTMs traveling with minors and to UACs. (Comments: The “permisos” are the Notice to Appear documents issued to undocumented aliens, when they are released on their own recognizance pending a hearing before an immigration judge.) The information is apparently common knowledge in Central America and is spread by word of mouth, and international and local media. A high percentage of the subjects interviewed stated their family members in the U.S. urged them to travel immediately, because the United States government was only issuing immigration “permisos” until the end of June 2014 . . . The issue of “permisos” was the main reason provided by 95% of the interviewed subjects.

The report added that a “second reason” cited by the immigrants is “the increased gang-related violence in Central America that authorities are unable to contain.” In addition, other immigrants said they came because they had finally gotten enough money, either from savings or funds sent from relatives in the United States, to make the trip. Still others cited unemployment, poverty, and domestic abuse in their countries. Nevertheless, the report concluded that “the issuance of ‘permisos’ to family units was the primary reason for leaving their countries.”

The report suggests that this new wave of illegal immigration is building on previous waves of illegal immigration. “All of the interviewed subjects stated that they had family members or, to a lesser extent, friends already living in the U.S.,” the report said. “Many of the relatives and friends are undocumented aliens, who have been living in the U.S. for periods ranging from several months to 10+ years.”

Several Republican senators cited the Border Patrol report in the hearing with Secretary Johnson last week. Johnson said he had not seen the paper. “The document you read from, I have never seen,” Johnson told Republican Sen. John Cornyn. “It’s supposedly a draft document. I don’t know that I agree with the assessment there.”

“Well, they’re interviews with 230 of the people detained coming across the border,” Cornyn said.

“I’m not sure I agree that that is the motivator for people coming in–for the children coming into south Texas,” Johnson answered. “I think it is primarily the conditions in the countries that they are leaving from.”


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