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BY PAUL BEDARD
Despite claims the administration was caught off guard, the White House and four Cabinet departments predicted last year’s surge of at least 60,000 illegal juveniles over the U.S.-Mexico border and expect it to more than double to 127,000 this year, according to an internal document.
A 24-page administration PowerPoint for congressional appropriators dated April 22, 2014 bluntly stated that border arrivals of “unaccompanied alien children” would rise “by nearly a factor of 10″ in 2014 to 60,000 and jump to 127,000 “if these growth rates continue.” It is shown below.
Indications are that this year’s surge won’t meet that record number, but will be the second highest in recent history.
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The document and accompanying graphs, provided by congressional sources, also set a price tag of $2 billion “to accommodate” the juveniles, some members of the MS-13 crime gang, this year.
The briefing counters claims by top federal officials that they didn’t see the surge coming last year. President Obama called it an “urgent humanitarian situation” in seeking nearly $4 billion, and a top aide said it “was much larger than we anticipated.”
It also indicated that the administration is changing its policy in handling the minors in a way that could expand the number allowed into the country, and is funneling money to countries such as Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to reverse the trend.
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Recent reports show that most of the illegal immigrants allowed into the United States have skipped out on their immigration and deportation hearings.
The appropriations briefing was presented by the Office of Management and Budget and the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice and State.
Shocked at what’s in the PowerPoint briefing, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz fired off a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell demanding answers raised in the briefing.
Cruz, a leading Republican presidential candidate, said that it appears the administration is deceiving the public about surge of kids. Referring to the 24-page PowerPoint, he wrote Burwell that it “raises significant questions about whether the administration has been truthful with the American people and Congress about its knowledge of the scope of the UAC problem.”
Citing the 2014 prediction, which was nearly correct, Cruz wrote, “Far from being an unforeseen crisis, the high number of UAC that approached the United States-Mexico border last summer appears to have been calmly predicted.”
He also said the administration is “tailoring” the reasons why so many illegals fled to America. Officials had said that home-grown violence drove kids out of their countries, making them sound like victims, but the briefing said that 51 percent “cite economic opportunity as a reason for migrating.”
And he drew attention to the briefing pages that suggest agencies are commingling expenses to “conceal the true cost” of the program while also likely spending State Department money to fight the problem in Latin America.
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HHS is reviewing Cruz’s letter and will get back to the senator “promptly,” said Health and Human Service’s Administration for Children and Families that handles refugees.
In his letter, Cruz demanded answers to several questions and ordered that all documents and communications on the UAC program be preserved.
He said that the PowerPoint shows HHS “has, according to its own internal documentation, adopted practices and strategies that, at best, could be deemed ineffective, and at worst, do not accord with current federal law. The information also indicates not only creative and questionable bookkeeping practices, but also an intent to deceive the American people and Congress.”
The PowerPoint drew criticism from an outside immigration watchdog. Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies said the document indicates that the administration is not actively returning illegal juveniles and also spending heavily on the program at a time of national budget crisis.