President Trump said DACA “helped spur a humanitarian crisis” involving Central American children. He tried to tie that crisis to violence by MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, a Central American gang. The Washington Post says a 2008 law was largely responsible for the surge, not DACA
In announcing the end of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Attorney General Jeff Sessions asserted that the 2012 action “contributed” to the massive influx of unaccompanied minors from Central America that peaked in 2014. President Trump said DACA “helped spur a humanitarian crisis” involving the Central American children. He tried to tie that crisis to violence by MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, a Central American gang that has been operating in the U.S. since the 1980s. “There are substantial problems with this theory, both in logic and statistics,” says the Washington Post’s Fact Checker.
In a peer-reviewed academic study in International Migration in 2016, Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes and Thitima Puttitanun crunched the data and concluded that the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act along with violence in the originating countries and economic conditions, was largely responsible for the surge in unaccompanied minors, whereas DACA had no significant impact. They noted that the rise in unaccompanied minors began in 2009, the year after the passage of the law, when the number increased by 145 percent year over year. Sessions and Trump “used carefully-parsed words in an effort to have their cake and eat it too.” says the Post. There was a surge in unaccompanied children in 2014, two years after DACA was announced. But that does not mean DACA led to that crisis or even contributed significantly to it.