FACT CHECK: Obama's claims on illegal immigration
Alica A. Caldwell and Erica Werner, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama made some notable omissions Thursday night in his remarks about the unilateral actions he's taking on immigration.
A look at his statements and how they compare with the facts:
OBAMA: "It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive - only Congress can do that. All we're saying is we're not going to deport you."
THE FACTS: He's saying, and doing, more than that. The changes also will make those covered eligible for work permits, allowing them to be employed in the country legally and compete with citizens and legal residents for better-paying jobs.
OBAMA: "Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it's been in nearly two years."
THE FACTS: The numbers certainly surged this year, but it was more than a "brief spike." The number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border has been on the rise since the 2011 budget year. That year about 16,000 children were found crossing the border alone. In 2012, the Border Patrol reported more than 24,000 children, followed by more than 38,800 in 2013. In the last budget year, more than 68,361 children were apprehended.
OBAMA: "Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts."
THE FACTS: Indeed, in the 2014 budget year the Border Patrol made 486,651 arrests of border crossers, among the fewest since the early 1970s. But border arrests have been on the rise since 2011.
The decline in crossings is not purely, or perhaps even primarily, due to the Obama administration. The deep economic recession early in his presidency and the shaky aftermath made the U.S. a less attractive place to come for work. The increase in arrests since 2011 also can be traced in part to the economy — as the recovery improved, more people came in search of opportunity.
OBAMA: "When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders."
THE FACTS: He overlooked the fact that he promised as a candidate for president in 2008 to have an immigration bill during his first year in office and move forward on it quickly. He never kept that promise to the Latino community.
There is false hype about the recent numbers of refugees coming into the US. The overall numbers of people coming into the US are less in size and less than the numbers of those returning. What is different is that we have seen the disturbing increase in organized crime in some countries in Latin America that have forced children to flee because of the level of abuse and violence. This is precisely why it makes no sense to use resources to target working class families that have ties to our country, instead of organized crime. Our own country's foreign policy- both trade and military support for dictatorships in the 1980s in Central America-have cntributed to the current migration from South to North. We need comprehensive regional solutions.
What does Voces have planned to inform immigrants in this region about the president’s plan?
The President is not using an authority that he does not have or that other Presidents have not used before him. President Reagan and President Bush used this authority to exempt 1.5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. Governor Walker and more broadly the Republican Party cannot afford to alienate Latino voters they acknowledge they have to win over if they ever want to win the presidential election in 2016.
Christine, what do you make of the political reaction so far coming from President Obama's opponents on this issue? Gov. Scott Walker said he “would go to court” to block Obama’s move. Do you expect this to be tied up the courts? What do you think are the chances that what the president proposes actually will happen?
On the question of legality, what often comes to mind for me, is not an abstract idea but a Racine grandmother who is a legal permanent resident. She petitioned her chiklren over ten years ago, is now in her 70s, and is still waiting for the paperwork to come though to be reunited with her children in Mexico. She is not unique. The legal system is broken because we do not have enough visas and the backlogs for the countries where we have the greatest family and economic ties is backlogged. We need deperately a legal working system.