A new State Department and Department of Homeland Security Program will fly immigrant children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador to their parents in the U.S. for free.
Parents can apply to have their children picked up and flown over the border to them on the taxpayer’s dime, as long as they have some kind of legal immigration status, The Daily Caller reported Wednesday.
The program was created in response to a surge of unaccompanied Central American children making the perilous trek to illegally cross the U.S. border that began last summer.
Any permanent resident, parolee or illegal immigrant granted or in the process of being granted a work permit under President Barack Obama’s executive order or his deferred action policy, who have children under age 21 living in Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador can apply for the program, The Daily Caller reported.
If the application is approved, the child will be granted special refugee status and flown to the U.S. to receive “resettlement assistance” and will be eligible for taxpayer benefits. If the child has children of their own under 21 they can come into the U.S. too, along with parents of the child who is married to the applicant.
The State Department defended the program in a November memo, saying that reuniting children with families this was is “a safe, legal, and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey that some children are currently undertaking to the United States,” Fox News reported Saturday.
It is unclear how much the plane tickets would cost, or what benefits would be provided upon the refugee’s arrival in the U.S.
According to Tom Fitton, president of the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, the refugee status granted to the children would allow them to receive more benefits that other illegal immigrants don’t have access to, including free education, food stamps, medical care, and living expenses, Fox reported.
Democratic strategist Chuck Rocha said that the program might be good for taxpayers.
“I think it’s good for the tax base,” Mr. Rocha told Fox. “Every year, 13 billion dollars are put into the Social Security Trust Fund from undocumented immigrants. So if you have immigrants here who are working, who are doing the jobs that need to be done, that’s money going into our tax system. People will say that it’s free health care, that it’s free education. Nothing in this town is free.”
But Mr. Fitton said the program sets a dangerous precedent for future immigrants, and sets up a system that doesn’t give them an incentive to seek legal immigration status.
“My gosh, what does the rule of law mean if you break the law to get here, and then you get the government to help bring in the rest of your family?” Mr. Fitton asked, Fox reported.