Congressman Darrell Issa and 34 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives sent President Obama a letter calling for an end to the administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The July 2 letter blamed the current surge of unaccompanied minors illegally crossing into the United States on the Obama administration’s June 2012 action that defers for two years deportation proceedings for certain children who are in the country illegally. Issa believes the DACA gives aliens the message that unaccompanied children will receive preferential treatment when illegally entering the country.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports that more than 52,000 children, unaccompanied by an adult, have been apprehended by the agency during fiscal year 2014 (October 1, 2013- June 15, 2014). This represents a 100 percent increase over last year. This surge is straining the resources of communities along the U.S.-Mexican border. These children, who are fleeing the violence and poverty in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, require food, shelter, health and legal services.
“…we call on you to immediately end the failed policies that encourage young individuals to put themselves in peril, leave their home countries, and make a long and dangerous journey to enter our country illegally.” — Letter to President Obama from 35 members of Congress, July 2, 2014
The DACA program, which went into effect June 15, 2012, applies to individuals who first entered the country before the age of 16 and is a student, high school graduate or holder of a GED diploma. Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Director at the time, said that Homeland Security would not expend resources on prosecuting these children as they did not intend to violate the law and pose no threat to the country. Deferment is also granted to individuals who have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Services.
This class of undocumented individuals is often referred to as dreamers; they seek the American Dream. They arrived in the country as small children or infants and many are unaware they are not legal citizens of the United States. President Obama used his executive authority to defer deportation of these people after Congress failed to pass the Dream Act.
Debate exits over the cause of the current immigration crisis. While some place the blame on Obama’s policies, others argue that the surge in illegal migrations began in 2011, prior to announcement of the DACA program. A survey by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees found that only one of the 400 refugee children interviewed mentioned awareness of the DACA program. Most of these children say they made the journey to the United States to avoid physical harm from, and forced conscription by, gangs in their home countries.