While the White House continues to insist the influx of children from Central America has nothing to do with its immigration policies, mounting evidence is proving otherwise.
In addition to a leaked internal memo that pins the administration’s lax enforcement laws as responsible for the recent humanitarian crisis in Texas and Arizona, Jorge Ramos, anchor of the Spanish-language television network Univision, further challenged the Obama narrative that the surge is a direct response to violence and poverty in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
In an interview with a Marlen Mena Bautista, a Honduran mother whose 15-year-old son recently crossed the border illegally, Ramos found that children are instead coming to the United States because of a widespread perception that they won’t be deported.
RAMOS: Do you have the perception that once children cross the border to the United States, they won’t be deported?
BAUTISTA: That is what is being said in Central America, almost all the time. Almost everyone is saying it.
RAMOS: So what is being said in Central America is that they don’t deport children. So once they enter this country, they stay in this country?
BAUTISTA: Yes. I imagine that is why he decided to come.
Responsible for promoting the message that the current influx is a result of poverty and violence in Central America is Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Munoz joined Ramos for an interview, refuting his claim that in Central America there is an impression that a child who crosses the border to the United States is never going to be deported.
“That is not so,” said Munoz. “[The children] are in deportation proceedings, and many of them will have to go back,” she added.
Yet, when asked by Ramos how many of the 24,000 Central American children detained last year by the Border Patrol have been deported, Munoz deflected.
“They are still in the process. It is a lengthy process. So I can’t tell you the number exactly,” she said. “But what I can tell you is that under the current law and the bill passed last year in the Senate and also under DACA [the policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival decreed by President Obama], there is not an option for these young people. In every case there is no a possibility of obtaining permanent status.”
Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat whose district resides along a large strip of the border, expressed his doubts to Munoz’s claims during the interview.
“We know, practically, that they are not going to come back,” Cuellar said. “And they are going to be here, part of the United States. That is what we are seeing.”
Ramos added that if word of U.S. policy spreads further across Central America and the surrounding area, “There is going to be an explosion of migrants.”