President Obama has budgeted $17,613 for each of the estimated 75,000 Central American teens expected to illegally cross into the United States this year, $2,841 more than the average annual Social Security retirement benefit, according to a new report.
The total bill to taxpayers: $1.3 billion in benefits to "unaccompanied children," more than double what the federal government spent in 2010, according to an analysis of the administration's programs for illegal minors from the Center for Immigration Studies. The average Social Security retirement benefit is $14,772.
The report notes that the president's budget, facing congressional approval, includes another $2.1 billion for refugees, which can include the illegals from Central America, mostly Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
What's more, the administration is also spending heavily on a program with the United Nations to help the illegal minors avoid the dangerous trip by declaring them refugees and handing them a plane ticket to the U.S. where, once here, they get special legal status.
The report, titled "Welcoming Unaccompanied Alien Children to the United States," is a deep dive into the administration's evolving efforts to let hundreds of thousands of mostly 16- and 17-year-old males settle in the country.
It said that most of the undocumented minors do not qualify for refugee status or are even in any danger in their native countries. Instead, they are seeking to unify with their family members, commonly parents in the United States illegally.
The report cited Department of Health and Human Services data showing the trend. "New data," said CIS, "shows that 80 percent of the 71,000 Central American children placed between February 2014 and September 2015 were released to sponsors who are in the United States illegally."
Author Nayla Rush suggested that the administration's Central American Refugee/Parole Program with the United Nations that declares minors refugees could have the effect of giving legal status to their illegal parents once in the U.S.
"Children will be able to qualify for refugee status and then be flown to the United States. As a reminder, refugees receive automatic legal status and are required to apply for a green card within their first year following arrival. They can apply for citizenship five years from the date of entry.
"Since parents from Central America illegally present in the United States could not benefit from the CAM program and sponsor their children, perhaps the reverse can take place with children admitted under this new version of the refugee program. Children, acquiring legal status followed by naturalization by the time they reach adulthood, could indeed sponsor their parents," wrote Rush.