The Obama administration is considering a scheme to bypass the middlemen — the drug traffickers and human smugglers slipping unaccompanied minor children across our borders — by flying them directly to the United States instead.
The administration is considering the move in an effort “to stem the recent surge of migrants at the Southwest border,” The New York Times reported Thursday.
The plan would call for U.S. officials to set up shop in Honduras, where they would screen children and young adults seeking refugee status in the United States. Those who are granted either refugee status or otherwise allowed entry on emergency humanitarian grounds, would then be flown directly to the States — presumably on the taxpayers’ dime.
“More than 45,000 unaccompanied minors from [Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala] have arrived since Oct. 1,” The Times reported. This is due, in large part, to the president’s relaxed immigration policies, especially with respect to youth.
According to The Times, the proposal:
…would be the first American refugee effort in a nation reachable by land to the United States, the White House said, putting the violence in Honduras on the level of humanitarian emergencies in Haiti and Vietnam, where such programs have been conducted in the past amid war and major crises.
Those pushing for the plan are requesting $47 million to finance a pilot program, and they estimate that approximately 5,000 Honduran youth would actually apply — an unrealistically low figure given the numbers that have already arrived. The Times noted that:
Critics of the plan were quick to pounce, saying it appeared to redefine the legal definition of a refugee and would only increase the flow of migration to the United States. Administration officials said they believed the plan could be enacted through executive action, without congressional approval, as long as it did not increase the total number of refugees coming into the country.
Earlier this month, President Obama requested $4.3 billion in additional funding, $3.7 billion of which to deal with the border crisis, according to Roll Call.
Shortly afterwards, Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D., R-Okla. appeared on CNN’s Crossfire, and noted that the amount requested represented approximately $60,000 per child, and said it was the “wrong approach” to spend vast sums on detention spaces and immigration attorneys.
“We can put them all on a first class seat to their homes, that’s $8 million,” he said, according to CNN.
And that $8 million figure is but a small fraction of the $47 million the administration is requesting to set up this pilot program.
Administration officials said they believe the president can implement the program on his own authority via executive order “as long as it did not increase the total number of refugees coming into the country,” The Times reported.