By Howard Foster -
We now know that most of the “children” surrendering at the U.S. –Mexican border have parents in this country illegally. Rather than going home to Central America, the parents have paid smugglers to bring their children, here, hoping for Presidential amnesty.
Since the defeat of Eric Cantor in June, the rumors of the President’s intention to issue some sort of decree that allows millions of illegal immigrants to live and work here without fear of deportation have increased. Last week the President’s spokesman confirmed some sort ”action” on immigration is likely because Congress won’t approve it.
Of course, the President has no authority to change the Immigration and Nationality Act on his own. He can’t issue work permits to people he believes should have them or promise certain illegal immigrants that are subject to deportation that they won’t be deported. But he did that two years ago for hundreds of thousands of young illegals, and it helped boost the Hispanic vote for his re-election.
From the president's perspective, fiat lawmaking to help illegal immigrants is good politics. It also, according to accounts of Border Control agents, encouraged the flow of illegal minors we have been grappling with for weeks.
Let’s also be clear that if the U.S. wants to be compassionate to these minors, it should reunite them with their parents- back in Central America. Parents that abandon their children to live as criminals in this country are putting those children at extreme risk. The children might be better off not being reunited with them.
But if family reunification is really the goal of U.S. immigration policy, then we should send the entire family back home, since none of them has the lawful right to be here. Enough instances of such unification repatriations might change the perception that they will get special treatment here.
We also know from data released last week that most of the children are not unaccompanied. They are chaperoned by smugglers. There is no provision of immigration law that allows children to enter the country as refugees so they can be reunited with their parents, however sensible that sounds. Refugees are people fleeing persecution because of their race, religion, nationality or “membership in a social group.”
These children are fleeing their home countries simply because economic conditions are bad and their parents are living here illegally. They are not refugees and should be summarily returned. Loose talk about amnesty by decree and compassion for unaccompanied minors has unleashed a torrent of illegal border crossings. If the President issues such a decree this month as everyone expects, the flood will grow worse.
Howard Foster is a Chicago attorney specializing in immigration law.