Follow the Soapbox

  • Hillary Clinton stunned a CNN audience on Tuesday by saying that the US should deport thousands of unaccompanied minors who have flooded the American border
  • 'They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are,' she said
  • 'Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn't mean the child gets to stay,' she warned parents south of the border
  • A wave of children, mostly from Central America, has streamed across the US-Mexico border in recent months
  • Border patrol authorities process them and then release them to the Department of Health and Human Services
  • HHS says it reunites 85 per cent of them with family members in the US, but those adults' own immigration status is a question mark
By David Martosko
U.S. Political Editor

17 June 2014

Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that the American government should deport thousands of children who cross the border illegally into the United States.

Pressed by Christiane Amanpour during a televised CNN town hall event, the former secretary of state and possible 2016 presidential candidate bucked her political party by insisting that letting unaccompanied minors remain in the U.S. is the wrong policy to embrace.

'They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are,' Clinton said, 'because – there are concerns about whether all of them can be sent back, but I think all of them that can be should be reunited with their families.'

Moments later, Clinton articulated a bottom-line policy that disagrees sharply with President Obama's observable priorities.

'We have to send a clear message: Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn't mean the child gets to stay,' Clinton said.


So we don't want to send a message that is contrary to our laws, or we'll encourage more children to make that dangerous journey.'

She acknowledged that 'it may be safer' for children for violence-prone nations like El Salvador and Guatemala to remain stateside, 'but that's not the answer.'

Clinton also said that the U.S. should help Mexico secure its own southern border, which abuts Guatemala and Belize, as a way to prevent under-18s from making the trip to America.

But 'first of all,' she cautioned. 'we have to provide the best emergency care we can provide. We have children 5 and 6 years old who have come up from Central America.'

The CNN audience, gathered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., was hushed as Clinton outlined a policy that she hinted she would implement if she were president.

She tried to dodge the question at first with claims that she had worked as secretary of state 'to deal with the violence in this region, to deal with border security.'

But Amanpour pressed her three times for an answer.

Through its budget for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Obama administration has tacitly acknowledged that the problem is growing quickly.

In 2011 HHS took custody of 6,775 children who entered the country illegally without accompanying parents.

That number was 13,625 in 2012 and 24,668 in 2013. The government's budget for 2014 provided for 60,000 such young border-crossers, but most estimates far exceed that anticipated number.

The federal government will spend more than $1 billion this year feeding, clothing and otherwise babysitting the children until suitable adult guardians can be found.

HHS claims 85 per cent of them are reunited with family members, but those are guardians in the United States, not in their home countries. The agency has not responded to requests for information about how many of them are themselves illegal aliens.

Few of the children are expected to return to face immigration judges, according to the nation's largest border patrolman's union.

In 2012 President Obama announced a policy intended to delay the deportation of illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S> as children before 2007.

But in a transnational game of 'telephone,' that policy has been misinterpreted – in some cases willfully so, by 'coyotes' who make a living secretary transporting immigrants into the U.S. – to suggest that it would apply equally to newly arriving minors.



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