Saturday, November 22, 2014


FACT CHECK: Obama's claims on illegal immigration

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama made some notable omissions in his remarks about the unilateral actions he's taking on immigration.

A look at his statements Thursday and how they compare with the facts:

OBAMA: "It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive. Only Congress can do that. All we're saying is we're not going to deport you."

THE FACTS: He's saying, and doing, more than that. The changes also will make those covered eligible for work permits, allowing them to be employed in the country legally and compete with citizens and legal residents for better paying jobs.

OBAMA: "Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it's been in nearly two years."

THE FACTS: The numbers certainly surged this year, but it was more than a "brief spike." The number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border has been on the rise since the 2011 budget year. That year about 16,000 children were found crossing the border alone. In 2012, the Border Patrol reported more than 24,000 children, followed by more than 38,800 in 2013. In the past budget year, more than 68,361 children were apprehended.
OBAMA: "Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts."

THE FACTS: Indeed, in the 2014 budget year ending Sept. 30 the Border Patrol made 486,651 arrests of border crossers, among the fewest since the early 1970s. But border arrests have been on the rise since 2011.

The decline in crossings is not purely, or perhaps even primarily, due to the Obama administration. The deep economic recession early in his presidency and the shaky aftermath made the U.S. a less attractive place to come for work. The increase in arrests since 2011 also can be traced in part to the economy — as the recovery improved, more people came in search of opportunity.

OBAMA: "When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders."

THE FACTS: He overlooked the fact that he promised as a candidate for president in 2008 to have an immigration bill during his first year in office and move forward on it quickly. He never kept that promise to the Latino community.

Cuban migrants head off from Caymans, bound for Honduras

GEORGE TOWN Cayman Islands (Reuters) - A group of 15 Cuban migrants waved to onlookers as they set sail from Grand Cayman aboard a 14-foot homemade boat on Friday after a brief overnight stop, hoping to make the risky 400-mile journey across the Caribbean to the north coast of Honduras.
The boat, made from metal and fiberglass with inner tubes attached to wooden outriggers, was carrying five woman and 10 men and set off last week from Manzanillo, in eastern Cuba. Three other passengers abandoned the journey and turned themselves over to Cayman authorities for repatriation to Cuba.

Cubans seeking to flee the communist-run island are heading in increasing numbers by sea to Central America and then making a long journey overland to reach the United States.

One group of 32 Cuban migrants drifted for three weeks without food or water this summer after their engine failed. Only 15 were found alive when they were rescued by Mexican fishermen.

U.S. officials say more than 16,000 Cubans arrived without visas at the border with Mexico in the past year, the highest number in a decade.

Cuban officials have not commented on the illegal boat departures, but blame the U.S. policy for encouraging migrants to risk their lives.

Under Washington's "wet foot, dry foot policy," Cuban migrants who make it onto U.S. soil are allowed to remain, while those intercepted at sea are turned back.

One man, who identified himself as Ediberto, said he worked in a hospital, but undertook the dangerous journey because of poor economic conditions in Cuba.

"There is food available, but you have to have money to pay for it," he said.

Another passenger, Manuel, a farmer from Ciego de Avila, said there is dissatisfaction in the countryside, but people are afraid of Cuba's communist government.

U.S. Coast Guard patrols have made it hard to reach the United States undetected via the Florida Strait, which separates Cuba and Florida by only 90 miles at its narrowest point.

Many Cubans now opt for the longer western route to Honduras, a trip of about 675 miles, via the Cayman Islands, which takes about 10 days.

Honduran authorities give Cuban migrants temporary visas allowing them to head north for the United States.