In an attempt to demonize the current Administration´s actions to ensure undocumented families can be kept together through their immigration proceedings, CNN en Español interviewed John Amaya, an attorney who served in the Obama Administration at ICE and the DOJ, among other positions, and currently works for a private law firm dealing with – you got it- immigration. His answers were “creative” to say the least, and raised the question: How much does CNN truly underestimate the intelligence of its viewers?
In this video, we can appreciate just a few of the questionable answers Amaya gave anchor Ione Molinares:
JOHN AMAYA, FORMER ICE/DOJ OFFICIAL: The President is saying that Obama divided families, but that is a lie.
We built Detention Centers.
Before we could detain children, and that is why those Detention Centers still exist.
When I worked for President Obama, it was, we tried, uh, to stop families with the children.
Coyotes occasionally look at what the press says and they know there's at least one arrangement that we have to let them go, the families. But that's not really the basis for which this president is saying that's necessary. They're saying it's because of the abuse and illegal entries, and we have to recognize one thing: that these families aren't coming in illegally.
Let’s start with Amaya calling the President a liar, only to later admit that, in fact, they did build detention centers for children, and those detention centers included overcrowded chain-link fence cages where the minors were forced to sleep on the floor with space blankets. And, as we all know, that happened precisely because minors were used as pawns for the same loophole President Trump wishes to close in order to allow families to stay together in detention until their immigration hearing; something that should take fewer than 50 days according to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan (and not indefinitely as the Hispanic news has been reporting).
Furthermore, when Molinares quoted former DHS Secretary Jay Johnson saying that coyotes took advantage of families with permits to remain in the United States, Amaya had the audacity to speak as if human traffickers were his buddies. “Yes, it´s true," he answered. “Coyotes occasionally look at what the press says and they know there's at least one arrangement that we have to let them go: the families.”
The crowning jewel of the interview, however, was the firm statement by the supposed expert on immigration, that the hundreds of thousands of families that are crossing illegally and not through the ports of entry, “aren't coming in illegally.” According to the White House, more than 430,000 undocumented family unit have been apprehended at the southern border so far in FY 2019 – a more than 300 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.
In order to refresh Mr. Amaya's memory, it is important to recall this New York Times report from 2014. “There’s a perception,” Mr. Cuellar (Representative Henry Cuellar, (D) Texas) said, “that if you step on American soil, they will give you a piece of paper, you go to the bus station and you can go anywhere in the United States. You’re free with that permiso,” he said, using the Spanish word for permit.” “Smugglers have stoked the permit rumors, migrants and border agents said, since they profit from the traffic.” “In a perplexing problem for the Border Patrol, many women and youths who cross the Rio Grande illegally now run toward agents rather than away from them, believing that being caught is the first step toward an entry permit.” Again, this has been going on for a long time, and is not a sudden phenomena as Amaya wants to make us believe.
In reality, the issues and problems are the same, with more and more illegals getting through the many Flores loopholes that have been a substantial driving force behind the crisis at our southern border. A note for John Amaya: beating around the bush and fantasizing about your years with Obama is not going to solve the immigration problem. Actions, as the Trump Administration have undertaken, are more likely to help “protect these children from abuse, and stop this illegal flow”, in the words of President Trump.
Below is a complete transcript of the above mentioned interview as it aired on CNN en Español´s Directo USA on August 21, 2019. CLck on Expand to view.
IONE MOLINARES, ANCHOR, CNN: There was a new change on immigration, the White House announced, and now it's about the option to keep the families in detention for a greater amount of time. Why? Because of a rule that simply says that a juvenile cannot be detained under federal authority for more than 20 days. This Flores agreement, was what the White House said, is causing many families to be motivated to come under the umbrella of a child, to be able to stay in the United States. We speak with John Amaya, who is with us here today. He worked in ICE, he also worked in the Justice Department, has been an activist, is an immigration lawyer. John, under the sense of what the President says, what the Administration says, how do you see that change? Is what they plan to do really effective if they want to control immigration?
JOHN AMAYA, WORKED WITH ICE AND DOJ WITH OBAMA: Well, first we have to understand that the rule has not started yet, they will have to publish it for 60 days so the people will have the opportunity to answer, and on the other, they have to submit this proposal to the federal judge responsible for this federal arrangement. Then until she says yes or no, this is will not start. But the fact that what the Secretary McAleenan said, and what the President said, that we were doing this under Obama and that the President is saying that Obama was separating families and it's from his heart that he is uniting families, it is, is, is not only offensive, but it is a lie.
Under what we were doing, when I worked for President Obama was, eh, we tried to detain families with children.
IONE: But you built detention centers…
AMAYA: Yes, we built detention centers which today are costing the people almost 26 to 60 million per month to hold 3,000 people. It is a ridiculous amount. But the fact is that, we started trying to do that and judge, Judge Gee, stopped us; told us, look, you know what? You cannot detain families, because even if the child is with his mother, he is still a child, and still qualifies under the previous arrangement that began in 1997.
IONE: They are still being detained…
AMAYA: Exactly, United States does not have to be separating families... that was when we began releasing families. Eh, what we also saw, is that part of the problem was that there were many States like Texas, like Pennsylvania, that were not licensed to allow the federal Government or the State Government to detain families together. There are arrangements where we could previously stop children and for this reason, those detention centers are still up. But the arrangement of the federal judge said ´you need a license under the State law where they are´, and for the same reason activists very cleverly placed more federal lawsuits and said, ´look, at the State level we already are, don´t give these licenses to the federal Government.´
IONE: And I remember that, at the time, Jay Johnson, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said that the coyotes took advantage of families with "permits", and that they were indeed triggering an entry for families, deceiving the families. And now what the Administration says is that they already know that families can bring children to be able to stay in the United States for a prolonged period of time, then, what is the mechanism, is that the best mechanism or not?
AMAYA: The answer is no, but I have to say something about the Coyotes. The Coyotes occasionally look at what the press says and they know there's at least one arrangement that we have to let them go, the families. But that's not really the basis for which this president is saying that's necessary. They're saying it's because of the abuse and illegal entries, and we have to recognize one thing: that these families aren't coming in illegally, they are trying to follow federal laws of the United States, which are based on International agreements.
IONE: to seek asylum.
AMAYA: To seek asylum. They are not hiding from the border patrols. They are handing themselves in, they are not trying to enter illegally, and it is important to recognize that.
IONE: The Government says that the economic part should not be reason to get here. Because a person is not able to get work in their country, they can´t come here asking for asylum. Asylum is being abused.
AMAYA: No, and it is true that the majority of people do not qualify for asylum as the law is written. But it doesn't mean that they are not avoiding damage, fear back in their countries. Everyone knows that it is happening and for the same reason it was wrong for this President to remove the same resources that President Obama had given to the Northern Triangle to try to combat gangs and economic problems back in Central America. This President has only opened up to largest problems. Instead of actually trying to help.
IONE: Then we will see how this agreement develops, this new change, because let´s be clear, Secretary McAleenan, a lot of strong lawsuits will come up, so who knows if it will be implemented?