Republican Anti-DACA Talking Point Debunked

After failing to pass bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform, Republicans across the country are now using the humanitarian crisis at the southern border as an avenue to blame President Obama’s bold policy – the Deferred Action Childhood Arrival (DACA) program – as the main cause of the influx of children.

  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte wants to resume the deportation of DREAMers by ending DACA.
  • Rep. Charlie Dent wants to dismantle DACA and include the move as part of any border crisis plan.
  • And Rep. Darrell Issa, along with 32 House Republicans, sent a letter to the President demanding an end to DACA because it has “encourage[d] young individuals to…enter our country illegally.”
  • Many more Republicans, including anti-immigrant spokesman Rep. Steve King – whose anti-immigrant measures have passed the floor with Boehner’s blessing – are also calling for the termination of DACA as part of any border proposal.

But actually, a study from the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies proves there’s no connection between DACA and the influx of children, concluding that:  

The sharp increase [of unaccompanied children] during FY 2012 has been used by [Republicans] to argue that the creation of the DACA program in June 2012 is the reason “that we have seen the number of children taking the incredible risks entailed with coming across the border grow exponentially.”

There are two problems with this line of thinking. For one, the increase in unaccompanied children began well before 2012. CBP estimates that between FY 2008 and FY 2009, for example, there was a 145 percent spike in unaccompanied children arrivals, jumping from 8,041 to 19,668.

But even more importantly, the U.S. fiscal year starts on October 1 and ends on September 30 of the following year. This means that FY 2012 actually started in October 2011 and ended in September 2012. Considering that applications for deferred action could only be submitted starting on August 15, 2012, it is highly unlikely that DACA caused an increase in children. Data on monthly border apprehensions—which admittedly do not distinguish between unaccompanied children and all others caught at the border—show that the number of people caught at the border actually slowed in the months after DACA was announced.

…if DACA were in fact incentivizing the flow of unaccompanied children, Nicaraguans and Panamanians would feel this just as Salvadorans, Guatemalans, and Hondurans, which would mean dramatic upticks across the board. However, this is clearly not the case.

Republicans can bring up lame excuses all they wish.  As CCIS said, these children are fleeing escalating violence in their countries – countries such as Honduras that have the number one homicide rate in the world, 90 per 100,000 individuals.  Instead of attempting to score political points through shameless acts, Speaker Boehner and Republicans should, once and for all, work with Democrats to address this humanitarian crisis and through our compassion, demonstrate to the world who we are as a country.