Surge in Illegal Unaccompanied Minors: A Self-inflicted Wound

The media has belatedly begun to focus on the scandal of a surge of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border that is so large the Border Patrol is not able to handle it locally and FEMA has been tasked to help. This comes when the administration would like the nation to think the border is under control. But numbers do not lie. This new surge is on track to reach an estimated 60,000  by the end of the fiscal year and shows no evidence of slowing.

The administration’s spin is that we must treat these new illegal aliens compassionately because they are fleeing violence in the Central America. But there is no evidence of any increase in violence in Central American countries and the ambassador to the United States from Guatemala asserted that violence is not the cause on the Univision program al Punto. 

So what is the cause? The Obama administration announced its ‘prioritization of enforcement’ policy that virtually assured illegal aliens a ‘hands off’ policy if they were not convicted of a major crime. That and the push by the administration for an amnesty for those illegal residents signaled that the time had come to bring children who had been left behind to join a parent already here. Moreover, the administration adopted its DACA limited amnesty giving work permits to illegal aliens who had entered the country as minors.


In addition, there has been an escalating policy of accommodation of apprehended illegal aliens – especially minors. The network of ethnic advocacy groups has long urged special treatment for unaccompanied minors. That led to the transfer of responsibility for caring for the minors from the Border Patrol to the office of Refugee Services (ORR) of the Department of Health and Human Services in 2003. This move was to spare parents or other relatives who were illegal aliens themselves from having to deal with immigration law enforcement personnel. According to ORR, that bureaucracy has handled 92,000 minors in the ten years since then – 76 percent of whom were age 14 or older in 2013. ORR, which is tasked with making sure that the minors will not be put in the hands of criminals or abusers, has most recently announced that it will stop fingerprinting the family members of relatives to whom they turn over the minors.

There is no way that this confluence of policy changes would not be seen abroad as an open invitation to minors who had some relative in the United States to now come and try to cash in on the looming amnesty that everyone was talking about – even if the administration denied it. Even as the crisis has soared, the administration’s response has been tepid. A White House source has commented that there is no guarantee that the new arrivals will not be deported eventually and Vice President Biden is scheduled to say in Guatemala that it is dangerous to travel through Mexico on the way to the United States – which is already well understood in Guatemala.

Could the influx be stopped? Certainly, but it would require reversing much of the policy adopted by the administration. It would require restoring the fear of deportation to the parents if they send for their abandoned children.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


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  2. avatar

    How do we U.S. citizens stop the anarchy and breach of security along our southern border resulting from our Presidents dangerous and unlawful ‘open door/amnesty’ immigration policy? The only way to do it is through exerting tremendous political pressure on the Democratic Party. It means Americans must get busy with letters, e-mails, faxes, phone calls to Washington D.C. and to local elected officials. The voice of pissed off voters about what is happening must intensify on talk radio and around the water cooler at work. The pressure must be loud and overwhelming. It is true things were not looking very good for the Democrats in this November’s mid term elections before the illegal immigration crisis exploded into the headlines. But now their fear of a political wipe this November is growing every day. Democrats running for federal office know Obama is not on the ballot this year …BUT THEY ARE. It is a fact of life that a political party always pays the price on election day for the failed policies or sins of its leader. If Democrats become convinced President Obama is leading them over a cliff, they will abandon him on immigration…. and force a change.

    • avatar

      I Hope I’m Wrong Larry

      But the open border lobbyists have our Dem/Reps on paid off puppet strings. Maybe a new party could emerge….call it the party “Cashless Patriots” withh all their campaigns on free internet only.