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Responding to George Will's 'Welcome to America' Proposal

By Jerry Kammer, July 28, 2014

In the mid-1990s, when the collapse of the Mexican economy produced a wave of illegal immigration to Arizona, I did volunteer work at a Phoenix school that was struggling to meet the needs of a few hundred Mexican children who spoke only Spanish. Even as I sought to help ease the transition for both sides, I thought it would be better for everyone if the influx subsided.

That explains my contradictory reactions of appreciation for and disagreement with George Will' s open-arms pronouncement on "Fox New Sunday" regarding Central Americans streaming across the Mexican border into Texas. It is burning up the blogosphere, drawing delight from the left and dismay from the right. Read more...

Hondurans Denounce Their Own Government for Corruption, Indifference

By Jerry Kammer, July 25, 2014

The website of Honduran newspaper La Tribuna received a remarkable series of readers' comments to its June 18 story about demands from the Honduran Human Rights Commissioner that the United States guarantee the rights of Hondurans who were fleeing to the United States to seek asylum there. The readers expressed anger at the Honduran government, accusing them of corruption, incompetence, and indifference to the suffering of the people who decide to leave the country. Here are excerpts. Read more...

News Clips from the 1989 "Other than Mexican" Crisis in the Rio Grande Valley

By Jerry Kammer, July 24, 2014

Twenty-five years ago South Texas experienced a similar, albeit much smaller, surge of illegal immigration from Central America, mainly Nicaraguans fleeing civil war. Here are excerpts from some of the news coverage: Read more...

How the Feds Stopped the Illegal Brazilian Influx of 2005

By Jerry Kammer, July 23, 2014

Americans have been stunned by report of the chaotic movement of tens of thousands of Central Americans across the Rio Grande. Instead of law and policies that discourage illegal immigration by arresting and deporting unauthorized border crossers, the public has learned of a system that encourages the massive influx by providing illegal crossers with permission to join family members or friends across the country. The system has turned the Border Patrol, long regarded as a formidable border barrier, into a Welcome Wagon.

The story is bizarre. But it is not unprecedented. As Congress surveys the chaotic border landscape and considers a legislative fix, it could learn a great deal from a similar situation that developed in the same part of the Texas border just nine years ago. Read more...

Honduran Paper: Young People, Fleeing Neglected Schools, Head for U.S.

By Jerry Kammer, July 22, 2014

The Honduran newspaper El Heraldo has just published a story about schools so badly neglected by the Honduran government that they are increasingly abandoned by young people, who then choose to go to the United States: Read more...

Salvadoran Smuggler Disputes Story of Thousands of Children Traveling Solo: "They don't go. They are taken."

By Jerry Kammer, July 21, 2014

Along the east Texas border, in towns like Brownsville, children – including very young children – are coming out of the Mexico desert, alone. They've fled their towns and cities in Central America. Alone, they've run a gauntlet across Mexico, of bandits, corrupt police, and drug gangs. Robbed, beaten, sometimes raped, kidnapped. They're the ones who survived. Others died on the way. At least 60,000 are expected this year. ... Can you imagine being 8, 10, 14 years old, fleeing your home town – Tegucigalpa, Guatemala City, San Salvador – and traveling alone on top of a train across Mexico?

— Tom Ashbrook, introducing the June 9 edition of his program "On Point", broadcast on public radio stations across the country. Read more...

El Salvador Plays for Time, Demands Due Process

By Jerry Kammer, July 17, 2014

From La Prensa Grafica, El Salvador

An airplane with 30 Hondurans — 22 children and eight mothers — arrived at San Pedro Sula, Honduras, this week. They are the first group of Central Americans repatriated in the ongoing crisis. ... The director of the Salvadoran Office of Migration, Hector Rodriguez, said that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement planned to use the same airplane to deport to El Salvador children and their accompanying adults.

Guatemalan Paper: U.S. Turns over 97% of Border Crossers to Relatives in the U.S.

By Jerry Kammer, July 16, 2014

From Prensa Libre

Ninety-seven percent of the Guatemalan minors who have gone illegally to the United States have been turned over to relatives in that country, as the law provides.

Nevertheless, this program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health, does not guarantee that the children will not be deported in the future.

“Those who do not stay in the U.S. are very few,” said Jose Barillas, Guatemalan consul in Houston. “Of the 240 children I interviewed last week in a shelter, I only met one who was not going to reunify with a family, and that was because he had no relative here.”

Mexico Promises to Stop Central Americans from Boarding 'the Beast'

By Jerry Kammer, July 15, 2014

If you want to know why the train that every year carries an estimated 200,000 Central American illegal immigrants through Mexico is called "The Beast", consider the description provided this week by AFP. Read more...

Central American Press on the Border Crisis

By Jerry Kammer, July 14, 2014

La Prensa Grafica (El Salvador)

Little girls in braids, boys with cowboy hats and tennis shoes — with their parents they came to the court of immigration judge Frank Travieso in Los Angeles to learn how long they could stay in the United States. ... He told them to come back in February.

This scene could become more frequent because the immigration courts, already overwhelmed with their work backlog, are preparing to receive the wave of Central American immigrants who have crossed the border from Mexico in recent months.

Excerpts from Central American Newspapers on the U.S. Border Crisis

By Jerry Kammer, July 10, 2014

El Heraldo (Honduras)

The United States Secretary of Homeland Security said he will continue to deport Central American children, closing the door on the calls of governments in the region that the youth be allowed to stay in the U.S. "We are going to act in accordance with the applicable laws" of the United States, which provide that persons arrested by the Border Patrol as they attempt to enter illegally will be returned "regardless of their age," Johnson said at a press conference at the end of a two-day visit to Guatemala.

Single Mothers Flee Poverty on the Roof of the Train Called 'The Beast'

By Jerry Kammer, July 10, 2014

The young mother smiled shyly as she responded to the Univision reporter's question about where she was headed.

"To the United States," she said. And why was she going there. "Necessity," she answered. Read more...

Henry Cuellar, Morning Joe, and the President's Katrina Moment

By Jerry Kammer, July 9, 2014

I hope that this doesn't become President Obama's Katrina moment. I'm sure that President Bush thought the same thing, that he could just look at everything from up in the sky, and then he owned it after for a long time. So I hope this doesn't become the Katrina moment for President Obama, saying that he doesn't need to come to the border. He should come down.

Munoz's Folly, White House Fiction

By Jerry Kammer, July 9, 2014

Cecilia Munoz, the former vice-president of the National Council of La Raza who now works in the White House as director of the Domestic Policy Council, is in charge of the Obama administration's response to the mounting crisis on the Texas border. In an attempt to put a positive spin on the chaos, she has become a serial fictionalist. She's engaged in a game of politically expedient make-believe. Read more...

NewsHour Asks "Why Are They Coming?"

By Jerry Kammer, July 8, 2014

Last night on the PBS "NewsHour", anchor Judy Woodruff led a discussion about the reasons for the dramatic exodus of tens of thousands of Central Americans to the United States. She heard competing views from the Center for Immigration Studies' Jessica Vaughan and Marshall Fitz of the Center for American Progress.

Fitz took the position that "the real reason people are leaving those countries is because of the violence and the conditions that they're experiencing in their home country." Read more...

Two Scenes from Univision on the Border Crisis

By Jerry Kammer, July 7, 2014

As someone who tries to follow how the story of illegal immigration is presented in Spanish-language media, I found two recent scenes on Univision news programs to be especially interesting.

The first provided a rare and fleeting acknowledgement of the fact that many Latinos, including some illegal immigrants, are astonished at how easy it can be to enter the United States illegally. The other, far more common on Univision, presented a lengthy diatribe by a popular Mexican-American singer who denounced resistance to illegal immigration as anti-Latino racism. Read more...

Unsecured Border: Interview with Brooks Co. Chief Deputy Sheriff

By Jerry Kammer, July 2, 2014

Read and view our entire Unsecured Border Series

Brooks County, Texas is mostly a vast semi-desert range-land and sits 65 miles north of the Mexican border. But Chief Deputy Sheriff Benny Martinez says 80-85 percent of his force’s time is spent on problems related to the border, from illegal immigration to drug smuggling. Read more...

Unsecured Border: Catholic Charities Helps Weary Border Crossers in South Texas

By Jerry Kammer, July 1, 2014

Read and view our entire Unsecured Border Series

Introductory Comment: On several occasions this blog has criticized the Catholic Church's position on immigration, especially its position on illegal immigration. But last week I was proud as a Catholic to see the effort that Catholic Charities has mobilized to meet the basic human needs — for food, clothing, shelter, and compassion — of Central Americans released by the Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley. Read more...

Unsecured Border: Univision Shows Border Absurdity

By Jerry Kammer, June 30, 2014

Read and view our entire Unsecured Border Series

The story of Central Americans streaming across the border is, of course, getting big play on Univision. Read more...

Unsecured Border: Central American Parents Describe the Push from Home and the Pull from U.S. Policies

By Jerry Kammer, June 30, 2014

Read and view our entire Unsecured Border Series

Cradling a six-month old baby in her arms, a Honduran woman stepped off the Border Patrol bus at the bus station in McAllen, Texas last Tuesday. They would soon be on a Greyhound bus heading for Miami, joining the thousands of illegal immigrants who are being released by the Border Patrol after a few days in custody. They are fanning out across the country, carrying documents that allow them to travel freely but also order them to report to immigration authorities after they reach their destination. Read more...

Unsecured Border: Guatemalan Consul Says Cross-Border Surge Began in 2011

By Jerry Kammer, June 26, 2014

View the Full Series

At his office on Broadway Street in the Texas border town of McAllen, Guatemalan consul Allan Perez said the illegal influx of his countrymen is nothing new, even though the numbers have jumped in recent months.

Indeed, said Perez, the Guatemalan consulate was established here in 2011 because the number of illegal border crossers had already begun to spike, as can be seen in this graph. Read more...

Unsecured Border: Interview with Linda Vickers, Rancher

By Jerry Kammer, June 26, 2014

View the Full Series

Linda Vickers says most of the people who hike across her ranch about 70 miles north of the Mexican border try to move through quickly, quietly, and inconspicuously. They want only to circumvent the Border Patrol checkpoint nearby on Highway 281 and to rendezvous with a smuggling vehicle, which is often driven by gang members from Houston that have joined the lucrative smuggling trade. Read more...

The Border Crisis and the Question of Who Gets What

By Jerry Kammer, June 21, 2014

They say government is the process of deciding who gets what. For an example of how that is playing out today, consider the interplay among the New York Times editorial position on the crisis at the Texas border, Times readers outraged at what they see as the newspaper's errant liberalism, and a plea from New Mexico Senator Tom Udall (D) regarding unmet needs of Native American children. Read more...

Central American Leaders Seek U.S. Reform while Their Own People Seek Security at Home

By Jerry Kammer, June 19, 2014

The president of El Salvador has announced that when he and other Central American leaders meet Friday with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, he will push for U.S.immigration reform to provide legal status for illegal immigrants and allow the children they left behind to join them. Read more...

The News from Honduras: Smugglers Cash in by Spreading Word of Amnesty

By Jerry Kammer, June 17, 2014

The mass exodus of Hondurans to the U.S. border is being promoted by smugglers who are spreading the word that the United States is planning an amnesty for illegal immigrants, according to a Honduran government official.

The smugglers "are sweet talking the mothers and families with the idea that, with the immigration reform the [U.S.] government will carry out, the people will have the opportunity to enter the United States and receive a permit to live in the country," Aracelly Calderon of the Honduran Center for the Care of Returned Migrants told the Spanish newspaper El Pais. Read more...

Jorge Ramos Foresees "Explosion of Migrants" as Word of White House Border Policy Spreads in Central America

By Jerry Kammer, June 15, 2014

For several weeks, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, the Obama administration has insisted that its policies have had little influence on the surge of Central American children – alone or with parents – across the Texas border. The White House Domestic Policy Council, under the direction of Cecilia Munoz, has asserted that the swelling influx (and growing humanitarian crisis in South Texas) is actually a response to the violence and poverty in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Read more...

The Border Crisis in Texas: How the Media Report the Story

By Jerry Kammer, June 13, 2014

(Part one of an occasional series)

In the ongoing battle to frame the story at the Texas border, the Obama administration is winning with much of the media. Many journalists have joined the White House in framing the story only as a humanitarian crisis. They focus their concern on an undeniably poignant human drama that involves many unaccompanied minors fleeing violence and poverty in Central America who cross the border illegally into the U.S. Many seek to rejoin parents who have already completed that perilous journey.

The administration's constricted frame of causation makes no room for the problem of U.S. policies that have become common knowledge throughout Central America. These policies have become a powerful engine, pulling large numbers of adults and children across the Rio Grande. Read more...

NPR Gets It Right after Helping White House Get It Wrong

By Jerry Kammer, June 12, 2014

NPR reporter John Burnett this morning helped correct a record that has been distorted in many news accounts about the ongoing surge of illegal immigration from Central America.

"The Border Patrol has in recent months been overwhelmed by a wave of poor migrants, some of them unaccompanied children as young as six," Burnett reported.

If you listened to NPR over the past week, you would have thought the influx comprised only children — youngsters as young as six who make the dangerous journey in a heart-wrenching search for parents already in the United States. While NPR wasn't the only news organization to frame the story this way, it was perhaps the most prominent in the distortion, especially in the descriptions provided by its anchors in Washington as they introduced stories and interviewed reporters in the field. Read more...

Senate Hearing Shows Partisan Divide on the Illegal Influx into South Texas

By Jerry Kammer, June 12, 2014

In Wednesday's hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, senators questioned DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson on the dramatic increase in the flow of illegal immigrants from Central America across the Mexican border into Texas. Here are excerpts from that discussion, in which Johnson and the Democrats focused primarily on the influx of children. There was little effort to clarify that the illegal influx comprises more adults than children (and that many of the children are teenagers). There were sharp differences on what was causing the spike in illegal order crossings. Read more...