Timeline: Border Surge Began a Few Months After Obama's First Executive Action on Immigration

Article author: 
John Sexton
Article publisher: 
Article date: 
6 August 2014
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

President Obama's executive actions on immigration did not begin with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in mid-2012. It began in 2011 with his announcement of "prosecutorial discretion" on deportations. A few months later the border patrol noted the first uptick in unaccompanied children at the border...

During the summer and fall of 2011 the promise of "prosecutorial discretion" made big waves in immigrant communities. In fact, almost immediately there was concern that disreputable people were spreading false information about what "prosecutorial discretion" would mean...

 ...the 2011 shift represented a first step toward a kind of Dream Act accomplished without Congress. The White House's executive actions on immigration are best seen as a series of changes that built upon one another toward this goal. First the Morton memos in June 2011 introduced new prosecutorial discretion to close cases on non-violent immigrants. Then in August the White House used the memos to announce a review of all pending cases under the new guidelines. Finally in June 2012 the White House announced DACA, a more formal process to defer deportation and help people gain work permits.

The suggestion that the current border crisis can't possibly be connected to the President's policies because of the timeline is simply false. The President announced a new policy in August 2011 which led to confusion and significant concern that people would be taken advantage of by those promising them work permits or amnesty. The best evidence suggests the first uptick of children at the border began about two months later in October.

It's always possible to claim this is a case of correlation not causation, but there must be a reason our efforts to combat the crisis so far have focused on public awareness about DACA in Central America. As of last month, we are spending a million dollars on these media campaign abroad. Clearly, someone in the White House believes confusion over recent policy changes is a big factor in the current crisis.