In recent weeks, a tide of young, unaccompanied minors crossing the Texas border illegally has pushed the US immigration system to its breaking point. Unable to cope with the volume of children crossing the border without their parents, immigration authorities have had to find emergency solutions, such as housing thousands in a San Antonio Air Force base, a California Navy base, and a makeshift detention center in Nogales, Ariz.
At issue is Mr. Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which in 2012 allowed some undocumented immigrants who came to America as minors to defer deportation for two years. Last week, the administration announced guidelines for how these immigrants could defer deportation for a further two years.
DACA would not apply to anyone coming across the border today. Only undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as minors before June 15, 2007, are eligible. But to Republican critics, DACA created the opportunity for misinformation and confusion.
During the decade preceding fiscal year 2012, the federal government agency tasked with caring for unaccompanied minors who cross the border illegally dealt with an average of 7,000 to 8,000 cases a year, according to a Department of Health and Human Services fact sheet. In fiscal year 2011, the number was 6,560.
The following year, however, the number jumped to 13,625. This fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, 2014, federal officials are estimating that the number could be 80,000, according to an internal memo cited by The New York Times.