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OPINION - They're staying

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU) The big news on the illegal immigration front is that a group of about 40 adult woman, teenage girls, and teenage boys were deported. They'd been processed at a holding facility in New Mexico, had no valid reason that would allow them to stay in the U.S., and were put on a plane back to Honduras.

That's the emphasis the Obama administration wants. But this one flight south also paints a very distorted picture of what's really happening. In the last three weeks immigration officials have been sending far more of them north -- if relatives can be located in the U.S. The teens are then told they have to come back at a future date, usually many months in the future, for a hearing in front of an immigration judge.

The official line from the White House is: "most of these minors will not qualify to stay in the United States." Please note, the wording is carefully chosen. Experience shows most illegals who are already here -- for instance, those with expired student visas, or those picked up for petty crimes -- never show up for their deportation hearings. They become part of the 11-million others who are in the country illegally. "Won't quality to stay" and "deported" are two separate issues entirely.

The government hasn't said how many kids have been released to relatives, but a volunteer with Catholic Charities in Laredo, Texas suggests that it's far more than the planeload that's been sent home. That unnamed worker said in a Fox News interview that family members are not having their legal status checked, not having their addresses verified, and are not required to pick up the kids in person -- we'll send them on a bus or plane. So, in reality, a friend, acquaintance, gang member, pimp, or drug dealer can pose as a family member during a phone call and that can spring one of these kids into the U.S. After that they can vanish into the shadows. The government will have no idea where they are until the hearing notice comes back in the mail, 'return to sender-address unknown'.

Bottom line: most of these kids who reach the U.S. will stay here, although illegally. They'll bide their time until some type of amnesty is offered. If they enroll in high school and graduate before Barack Obama's term ends they'd be able to avoid deportation enforcement under the president's Dreamers executive order.

Another interesting quote from the charity worker interview with Fox. She observes that many of the teenagers in our holding centers are very knowledgeable about how our system works. Apparently the American public is not.

Chris Conley

Image:Mike Lozano, an immigrant from Mexico, marches during an immigrant rights rally in Boston, Massachusetts in this file photo as part of a nationwide ''A Day Without Immigrants'' protest staged by immigrant rights advocates via wsau.com.REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER/FILES