DHS releasing illegal immigrant families from Central America into U.S. -- but won't say how many

Seven times the AP asked them for a number, seven times the feds said they either didn’t know or that they’d get back to them. You trust Obama to faithfully report the effects of new border security laws after comprehensive reform passes, don’t you?

An ominous possibility here: Maybe they really, sincerely don’t know. Maybe the crush of illegals over the past six months has been so huge and the system so overwhelmed by trying to process and house minors that they’re turning people loose now without even pausing to record their presence. Usually “catch and release” at least involves a tally. Who knows anymore?

Despite promises to the contrary, this is how it looks when the image-conscious Obama administration doesn’t want to reveal politically sensitive information that could influence an important policy debate. The mystery figure is significant because the number of families caught crossing from Central America represents a large share of new immigration cases that will further strain the overwhelmed U.S. immigration courts system. It also affects federal enforcement strategy, such as where to deploy the border patrol, and political calculations about whether Congress or the White House will relax American immigration laws or regulations before upcoming congressional elections in November.

Most of the immigrant families are from Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala and cannot be immediately repatriated, so the government has been releasing them into the U.S. interior and telling them to report within 15 days to the nearest U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement offices. Despite promises for better transparency on immigration issues, the administration has been unwilling to say how many immigrant families it’s released — hundreds or thousands — or how many of those subsequently reported back to the government after 15 days as directed.

The best spin you can put on this for the White House is that they’re willing to deport the new illegals but that their enforcement resources aren’t remotely equal to the task. DHS estimates that more than 50,000 children from Central America have been caught trying to cross the border since October; another 150,000 — no typo — are expected next year. (That’s just children. Adult illegals aren’t included in the estimate.) They can’t house them so out the door they go, with nothing more than an empty promise that they’ll show up for their first immigration hearing. Seems like a fine time for the head of the executive branch to demand that Congress provide him with new resources to cope with this security crisis, but Obama naturally hasn’t said a word. Democrats don’t support border security except as a concession grudgingly made as part of a comprehensive deal that gets them what they really want, i.e. amnesty. Not unless and until this issue starts to bite them in the ass in midterm polling will they entertain the thought of more security on its own terms. The most you can expect here is that Obama will quietly shelve his plans for a new executive order relaxing deportations while this is going on. Which won’t do a thing about the flow of illegals the BP is struggling with.

And for the record: No, most of these kids won’t be going home. This story is now big enough that it landed on the radar of a nonpolitical friend of mine this weekend, who asked me if the White House’s promises to deport them are true. Of course they aren’t. Even low-information voters should know that by now.

“It will not be open arms,” Biden said. “We’re going to hold hearings with our judges, consistent with international law and American law, and we’re going to send the vast majority of you back.”…

A leaked May 30 internal memo written by a top Border Patrol official, Deputy Chief Ronald Vitello, said, “Currently only three percent of apprehensions from countries other than Mexico are being repatriated to their countries of citizenship, which are predominantly located in Central America.” That three percent is nowhere near the “vast majority” Biden promised…

“It’s taking a year or more in some places for these people to come up on a hearing,” says Gary Mead, a former head of Enforcement and Removal Operations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “And many times, they don’t have an attorney, or they’ve lost an attorney, and they get an extension, and maybe it’s two years before they have a hearing. And in the interim period, they enroll in school, or they get a job, or they are reunited with family members, and then they are no longer an enforcement priority.”

Ninety thousand young illegals will be here by the end of the year and, as noted, another 150,000 are expected next year. Even if you assume a five percent rate of repatriation, that’s over 225,000 kids being granted de facto amnesty via “catch and release,” with de jure amnesty possibly to follow once Democrats decide they need Obama to expand DACA as part of another election-year gimmick for Latino voters. That’s the backdrop for Democratic — and Republican — promises that this time when they enact comprehensive reform, they’ll really, totally, absolutely make sure that America never has to pass another amnesty. As usual, it’s not the lies that are egregious, it’s how transparent the lies are.

By the way, has the border surge become an issue in any Senate races yet? I might be missing something but I haven’t noticed it blowing up anywhere. That may be a product of equilibrium, or perceived equilibrium, between pro- and anti-amnesty forces. A Republican who pounds the table about lax border security risks antagonizing Latinos; a Democrat who demands amnesty for the kids who’ve arrived from Central America risks energizing conservatives. There may be a rough truce in effect just because the politics of this are so difficult to predict.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on February 01, 2023