10 July 2014, 18:45

U.S. grapples with illegal immigration problem it helped to create

President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama.

By Crystal Park

WASHINGTON (VR) – President Barack Obama is defending his decision not to tour the immigrant processing and detainment facilities in Texas, after Governor Rick Perry accused him of not caring about undocumented children.

Obama said Wednesday, “There’s nothing that is taking place down there that I am not intimately aware of and briefed on. This isn’t theater. This is a problem.” The president has said appearing at the facilities would amount to little more than a photo-op.

Perry questioned the president’s decision not to visit the facilities, pointing out that Obama visited the Jersey shore quickly after Superstorm Sandy.

The White House has described the growing number of Central American immigrants entering the U.S. illegally as a “humanitarian crisis.” According to CNN, U.S. authorities estimate between 60,000 to 80,000 undocumented children will enter the U.S. illegally without their parents this year.

George Landrith, President of Frontiers for Freedom, says the pace at which illegal immigrants are coming to the U.S. has increased rapidly. "Clearly there's been a message that's somehow been sent that the United States is amenable to tens of thousands of folks just showing up on our doorstep. That's increased the pace, and made it so that it's a bigger issue than this time last year."

Jon Feere, legal policy analyst at Center for Immigration Studies, agrees. He says the U.S. has been sending messages that illegal immigrants have nothing to fear. “The message that people are hearing is the United States is attempting to legalize illegal immigration through legislation.” What’s more, Feere says, Obama has signaled he’s willing to act unilaterally if Congress doesn’t cooperate.

The problem is two-fold, explains Landrith. "One is an illegal entry problem, and one is an illegal staying problem. Obviously the two feed off of each other."

Feere believes there are too many incentives for illegal immigrants, and not enough enforcement by the Obama administration to curb illegal entry. For one, he says, employers should be held more accountable for hiring illegal workers. Without opportunities for work, illegal immigrants will be less likely to enter the country illegally or overstay their work visas. Feere also suggests denying illegal immigrants’ driver’s licenses.

However, mass immigration is always a two way street. Citizens of Central America are attracted to the U.S. because their own nations aren’t fulfilling their needs. Carlos Belez-Ibanez, director of the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State University, says, "It has to do with conditions in each one of those countries- a combination of failed states, transnational gangs, cartels and violence in both rural and urban areas."

He explains, “El Salvador has been controlled perennially by 16 families. Honduras has never had the kind of civil structure that in fact defends its civil population. Guatemala has had perpetual wars and interventions.”

Despite statistics that show President Obama has deported more illegal immigrants than any other president in U.S. history, Feere says the numbers are misleading. Prior to 2008, deportation was defined as being forced to return to one’s home country after being formally processed and possibly even having a day in court. However, since Obama took office, there have been more immigrants stopped at the U.S. border and denied entry. Those numbers have been lumped into the deportation numbers, giving off the false impression that Obama has cracked down on illegal immigration.

Feere says there needs to be a comprehensive solution to this complex problem. “This was not a problem created overnight, and it’s not going to be solved overnight.”

The president has requested $1.6 billion in emergency funding to deal with the influx of Central American undocumented immigrant children in the U.S. A $30 billion proposed border security funding was passed by the Senate, but has stalled in the GOP led House of Representatives.

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