Many outlets have identified gang activity in Latin America as the main cause of the increasing number of child migrants crossing the border. But Byron York thinks the Fox News right, which instead blames Obama’s immigration policies, has a solid case:
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.
But Dara Lind lists “13 things you need to know to get a handle on what is actually going on along the border right now.” Among them:
[Homeland Security Secretary Jeh] Johnson has said that immigrant children coming in now aren’t eligible for “an earned path to citizenship” — which could be interpreted to mean that they aren’t eligible for any legal status whatsoever. But under existing immigration law, if they meet standards for humanitarian status because they were persecuted in their home countries, they are eligible to receive it. And experts say that immigration judges aren’t supposed to take comments like Sec. Johnson’s into consideration when considering a child’s case.
A recent report from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees says that about 60 percent of children coming over from Central America might be eligible for some kind of humanitarian protection. And a Vera Institute of Justice report from 2012 identified 40 percent of immigrant children as eligible for some sort of legal protection under US immigration law.
I’d say it’s obviously a combination of the two: brutal insecurity in their lands of origin, plus the knowledge that overwhelmed humanitarian resources on the border have no choice but to let immigrant children find temporary (but practically permanent) refuge in the U.S.
(Photo: A child on the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border fence looks into Arizona during a special ‘Mass on the Border’ on April 1, 2014 in Nogales, Arizona. By John Moore/Getty Images.)