Families caught illegally crossing the border into the United States recently are telling government agencies they did so in part because they thought they would be allowed to stay.
According to data from Customs and Border Protection, which recently interviewed illegal border crossers, families “consistently” believed they were eligible for some sort of legal “permisos,” or passes, to enter and stay in the U.S., claim asylum and/or receive benefits. Of course such beliefs match the reality of falling deportation numbers, President Obama’s executive actions and the failure to ensure that illegal immigrants show up to their court hearings.
The Associated Press, which acquired internal data from Customs and Border Protection, found the agency conducted these interviews to “understand what might be driving a puzzling surge in the numbers of border crossings that started over the summer.”
According to the Associated Press, the number of unaccompanied alien children and families crossing the border fell in 2015 from the spike in 2014, but there has been an increase over the past several months. This recent uptick has confused Department of Homeland Security officials, who thought their campaigns to warn illegal immigrants of the dangers of the journey to the U.S. would be enough.
In other words, illegal border crossers know what the Obama administration does not know or chooses to ignore – lax immigration enforcement encourages more illegal immigration.
The administration correctly argues that problems in Latin America, especially the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, are to blame for driving people to come to the U.S. illegally. These so called “push factors” are serious and the U.S. should be doing more to work with Latin American governments to establish rule of law and economic freedom and to combat drug trafficking organizations that cause so much violence.
But the administration chooses to ignore the “pull factors,” those policies that draw individuals to the U.S. Talk of deferred action, not being turned around at the border but instead sent into the U.S., non-enforcement, sanctuary cities, etc. gives illegal immigrants the impression it is OK to enter the U.S. illegally.
And actions speak louder than words. The U.S. campaign to tell would-be illegal immigrants not to come to the U.S. is undermined and contradicted when our laws are so poorly enforced. The uptick in illegal immigration and the CBP data are not puzzling- they are exactly what should be expected. Unfortunately, this reality is not popular in the Obama administration.