In any other administration, the debacle unfolding across our Southern border would be dominating the news. But in the Age of Obama, it jostles for attention with a host of other scandals and catastrophes. Tens of thousands of Central Americans–maybe more–have now traversed Mexico and deposited themselves at our border, where they are being whisked into the United States. The migrants endure privation and danger to get here, lured by reports that an amnesty is coming.
This wave of immigrants is customarily referred to as “children,” and media outlets like to interview women and girls. But one survey found that 80% of the migrants are male, and 83% are over 14. Some are gang members or other type of criminals. If the Obama administration thought they were future Republican voters, they would be driven away with cattle prods. Instead, the illegal immigrants are being sent to various parts of the U.S.
Here the Obama administration becomes characteristically evasive. The remarkable thing is that the Associated Press actually notices:
The Obama administration has released into the U.S. an untold number of immigrant families caught traveling illegally from Central America in recent months — and although the government knows how many it’s released, it won’t say publicly.
Senior U.S. officials directly familiar with the issue, including at the Homeland Security Department and White House, have so far dodged the answer on at least seven occasions over two weeks, alternately saying that they did not know the figure or didn’t have it immediately at hand. “We will get back to you,” the Homeland Security deputy secretary said Friday.
The figure is widely believed to exceed 40,000 since October. It’s believed to be slightly below the roughly 52,000 children caught traveling illegally from Central America over the same period, an extraordinary increase since last year that is driving a humanitarian crisis at the border.
Despite promises to the contrary, this is how it looks when the image-conscious Obama administration doesn’t want to reveal politically sensitive information that could influence an important policy debate. …
Most of the immigrant families are from Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala and cannot be immediately repatriated, so the government has been releasing them into the U.S. interior and telling them to report within 15 days to the nearest U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement offices. Despite promises for better transparency on immigration issues, the administration has been unwilling to say how many immigrant families it’s released — hundreds or thousands — or how many of those subsequently reported back to the government after 15 days as directed.
Precious few, no doubt.
The administration did not immediately respond Monday to renewed questions about why it won’t reveal the figure.
Here are details of at least seven occasions since June 9 when senior U.S. officials declined to say how many immigrant families the government has released in recent months:
—June 9: A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity during a conference call, told reporters there was no information available about the number of adults with children who were released.
—June 10: On Capitol Hill for a congressional briefing, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told an Associated Press reporter in response to a question about the figure: “I have no news for you.” He urged AP to ask the department’s public affairs office, which did not answer roughly a dozen requests for the information.
—June 12: At a news conference about immigration, the Homeland Security secretary did not respond to a shouted question about the number of immigrants released.
—June 13: The Customs and Border Protection commissioner, Gil Kerlikowske, told the AP that he didn’t know how many immigrants his agency released. He said the administration was compiling the data.
—June 13: During a visit to Chicago, Johnson told the AP he didn’t have the information with him.
—Friday: On a conference call, the Homeland Security deputy secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, said, “We will get back to you with respect to the precise numbers on the notices to appear.” He added later: “I don’t have the response to the data question that you asked.”
—Friday: When reporters asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest about the releases during a news conference, he responded: “I don’t have those numbers here … but what I do have is a clear commitment from this administration to deal with what is an emerging humanitarian situation.”
James Buchanan is hard to top, but as the disasters multiply, Barack Obama has managed to insert himself into the “worst president ever” conversation.