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Reality Check: Growing Immigration Crisis

Nearly 50,000 people came across the U.S. border in May and 10,000 of them were unaccompanied children. It's a humanitarian crisis some are blaming on the U.S. administration's watering down of immigration laws.

Local sheriffs were authorized years ago by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to team up with I.C.E. to enforce immigration laws, under a program called 287(g). But in 2009, the enforcement component of the program went away by the administrations orders, a change some believe has contributed to the current border crisis..

In Henderson County, the 287(g) program is operated from the detention center. Local authorities identify illegal aliens who are turned over to customs for possible deportation. It's a detention model, the only 287(g) program ever used in Henderson County. Obama critics say the government handcuffed local authorities in 2009 from using an enforcement model, which has led to a crisis at the border.

"With a pen and a cell phone he decided if we didn't pass the dream act they were, he was going to by executive order do this. And he created this," says Tea Party Chairman, Jane Bilello.

According to I.C.E., it audited and changed the 287(g) program in 2009.  I.C.E. fundamentally reformed the program. A spokesman says it was done to focus "on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of criminal aliens and egregious immigration law violators." 

Bilello says that sent a message around the globe. "We need to enforce our immigration laws. That's what needs to be done and this is a man-made created humanitarian crisis," she says.

"Part of the problem is they're coming from El Salvador, Guatemala," says Congressman Mark Meadows. Meadows says it is growing by the day, partly because of lenient enforcement of immigration laws like the changes to 287(g). "There's a whole lot being done behind the scenes. The real key is the word amnesty.  I don't think there's anything with the word amnesty that will come close to passing," he says.
But amnesty supporters argue the crisis is proof that America needs to resolve the issue. Norma Brown, a Latino advocate, says deporting the estimated 11 million illegal aliens "would be devastating for the agricultural industry," not to mention the many other industries that would be affected. 

Last year I.C.E. deported about 4,000 fewer illegal aliens from Georgia, and North and South Carolinas than it did in 2008, before the change. But they say more of them were hardened criminals who pose a greater threat to our communities, and who are now the focus of immigration enforcement.


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