President Barack Obama today said the spike children illegally crossing the Mexican border is an "urgent humanitarian situation," and asked the Senate Appropriations Committee for an extra $1.4 billion to deal with it. Obama issued a presidential memorandum that describes his Administration’s response, which will be led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The memorandum establishes a multi-agency group to oversee the effort that includes the Homeland Security Department, and the Departments of Defense, State and Health and Human Services (HHS). The Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency will “lead and coordinate Federal response efforts to ensure that Federal agency authorities and the resources granted to the departments and agencies under Federal law (including personnel, equipment, supplies, facilities, and managerial, technical, and advisory services) are unified in providing humanitarian relief to the affected children, including housing, care, medical treatment, and transportation.”
The number of children crossing the Mexican border illegally without (although sometimes with) parents has increased dramatically over the last several years. Numbers ranged from 6,000 and 7,500 per year between fiscal years 2008 and 2011, but skyrocketed to 13,625 in fiscal year 2012. Last fiscal year the number almost doubled again to 24,668. This year the total is expected to exceed 60,000 and, next year, as many as 130,000..
The HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is responsible for the care of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) in the United States. They are held while the Office searches for family or a sponsor, then helped to apply for asylum or another status in immigration court.
Although the ORR knew of the influx when a budget was submitted to Congress earlier this year, officials requested the same amount approved last year - $868 million. A House appropriations subcommittee added $77 million to the original request in legislation passed last week. A day later, the White House Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, asking for more funds. The letter asked for up to $2.28 billion for ORR and an extra $166 million for the Customs and Border Protection within DHS.
ORR reports that over 90 percent of the UACs under its care come from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The media are reporting they are entering the United States to escape violence in their home countries but that violence existed before this year when the levels are expected to increase ten-fold over just a few years ago. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., in a statement blamed the Obama Administration's policies for the influx.
Rep. Goodlatte's statement said, “The recent surge of children and teenagers from Central America showing up at our Southern border is an Administration-made disaster and now President Obama is calling in FEMA to mitigate the damage. Word has gotten out around the world about President Obama’s lax immigration enforcement policies and it has encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally, many of whom are children from Central America. Illegal border crossing is extremely dangerous and many of these children encounter drug and human traffickers along the way. Enforcement at the border and in the interior of the U.S. is crucial to end these kinds of situations, not another bureaucratic task force. The House Judiciary Committee intends to hold a hearing on this troubling issue in the coming weeks.”
Numerous media reports have documented the Administration efforts to link up UACs with illegal-alien family members in the U.S. and to allow mothers and children crossing illegally together to remain. In one account, an illegal-alien mother named Carmen said word is spreading throughout Guatemala that women with children are being let in to the United States. She heard that women with kids who are caught by the Border Patrol spend a couple nights in jail, and then get to go to their destination in the U.S. Carmen planned to turn herself in to the Border Patrol rather than have smugglers to take her and her children.
Commenting on the Administration move, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told Breitbart that Obama has “nobody to blame but himself" for the crisis. “This is a direct result of the President’s statements that he was not going to enforce the law with regard to people who entered the country as youngsters," Sen. Sessions said. "It’s an open invitation for others to come. What he has done in the last months, aided by members of Congress, is to create the impression that no one is going to be deported, and especially young people who come into the country are not going to be deported. So they are focusing way too much on attempting to cope with the flood of young people coming into the country and not nearly enough on reducing the flow.”
Zack Taylor, Chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, told Breitbart that the Obama Administration's rhetoric has "encouraged" illegal aliens to cross the border. "Being an illegal alien is not a right to citizenship," Taylor said. "When Vice President Biden says these kinds of things, that is just an invitation for foreign nationals to come up here. It's time for the U.S to get serious about immigration…The U.S. is partly responsible for foreign nationals taking extreme measures that risk the lives of their children. Our government is encouraging foreign nationals to come into our country illegally and stay."
Read more from the Associated Press.