Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

July 12, 2014

Fact Check: Obama and amnesty for kids

By PolitiFact.Texas

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, recently emerged from observing Central American children being held at Lackland Air Force Base and declared related border crossings were surging because of a protective offer from President Barack Obama.

Children from Central American countries and others have established a record flow across the Rio Grande, we recently found.

Accounts have varied on why more are coming than before. For instance, a June 16, 2014, National Journal news story quoted Leslie Velez, a senior protection officer at the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, as saying its 2014 interviews of 404 children revealed many were fleeing violence and crime in their home countries.

Cruz, addressing reporters a week before Obama asked Congress for more money and authority to make it easier to deport recent border crossers, said a survey showed that 95 percent of the immigrants were saying “we are coming because we’ve been promised amnesty.” We rated this Half True; the statistic was right, but the use of the word “amnesty” wasn’t. The survey and respondents used the word “permiso,” which is a notice given to unaccompanied children enabling them to stay in the country until their cases get a review. That doesn’t amount to amnesty.

After mentioning such expectations of amnesty, Cruz went on to say: “That’s the message that’s being heard. And the reason these children are coming in staggering numbers is because the president has been promising amnesty.”

Wait: Has the Democratic president been promising amnesty?

Defining amnesty

Before we get to Cruz’s backup information, it’s worth remembering how “amnesty” has been defined per illegal immigrants.

A legal dictionary defines amnesty as “a blanket abolition of an offense by the government, with the legal result that those charged or convicted have the charge or conviction wiped out. ... The basis for amnesty is generally because the war or other conditions that made the acts criminal no longer exist or have faded in importance.

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