Instead of being sent back across the border, they have been housed in jammed facilities under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. Some have been given bus tickets to relatives in the United States, according to CNN.
News of this unexpected surge of illegal immigration seems to have contributed to the surprise defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the June 13 Virginia Republican primary.
And last Friday the administration dispatched Joe Biden on a previously unscheduled trip to Guatemala to tell people there that, "there is no light at the end of the tunnel."
Liberals have argued that these teenagers are fleeing the high rates of crime and violence in their native countries. The implication is that they should be admitted as refugees from oppression.
But there's good reason to believe that many have come to believe that they have permisos to enter and remain in the United States. Once you announce you refuse to enforce one law, people may conclude you won't enforce others either.
The Cantor defeat and the surge of Central American teens make it unlikely that House Republican leaders will advance much in the way of immigration legislation.
Two trends in polling also point in this direction. One is that Hispanic voters don't seem hugely preoccupied with immigration. The Pew Research Center reports that many more focus on education, the economy and health than the one-third who say immigration is "extremely important" to them personally.
The other is that the president's job approval among Hispanics has been falling sharply. He got 71 percent of their votes in 2012, but fewer than half approve his performance today.
It's not hard to see why. The sluggish economy has hurt Hispanics more than most Americans. Obamacare and big government policies have not helped them as they apparently have hoped.
This suggests that non-passage of comprehensive legislation won't hurt Republicans as much as predicted. And inaction, always the easier legislative course, would prevent a debate in which the cries of angry opponents, gleefully highlighted in mainstream media, could antagonize Hispanic voters.