Latin American governments expressed disappointment this week over a Texas judge’s decision to temporarily halt the rollout of President Obama’s executive action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala issued statements Tuesday regarding Judge Andrew Hanen’s injunction on the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was scheduled to begin accepting applications Wednesday, as well as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, planned for May.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson confirmed Tuesday that both programs would be suspended while the White House appealed the decision. The existing 2012 DACA program remains in place.
Mexico’s foreign ministry released a statement noting that it “lamented the judge’s decision,” and warned Mexicans in the U.S. not to fall for scams that could proliferate in the wake of confusion caused by the ruling. Mexicans, who make up the majority of the U.S. immigrant population, have been the largest group of beneficiaries of President Obama’s executive action on immigration thus far. Immigrants from Mexico make up about 65 percent of those enrolled in the 2012 DACA program, which grants work authorizations and deportation relief for young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Guatemala issued a similar statement of regret. “The Guatemalan government profoundly laments the decision suspending the enforcement of immigration measures approved by the U.S. presidency that benefits the Guatemalan community,” the foreign relations ministry said Tuesday.
Marvin Ponce, an adviser to Honduras’ president, criticized the political undercurrents of the decision, calling it “evidence that there are political sectors fighting to torpedo decisions that alleviate social and economic pressures that overwhelm our countries,” local media reported.
El Salvador’s government also said it would back a “prompt search for measures that promote migratory stability for all migrants that adhere to U.S. standards and whose work contributes to the economy of the country.”
Migrants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras made up the bulk of unauthorized border crossers last summer in what the Obama administration deemed a humanitarian crisis. More than 67,000 unaccompanied children and 66,900 family units entered the country through the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal year 2014. Congressional Republicans attributed the surge to the 2012 DACA program, saying rumors of leniency fueled unauthorized migration, but Democrats and immigration advocates said pervasive gang violence in Central America was largely responsible for the influx.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration carved out $1 billion of its 2015 budget to enhance security in those three Central American countries to stem the flow of unauthorized migration. It also launched an in-country refugee processing program in those countries to reunite children who qualify for refugee status with parents living in the U.S.