DHS officials say Disneyland-Chihuahua will lure unaccompanied minors away from illegally crossing into the United States.
The 130-acre site, a little smaller than Disneyland-Paris, was chosen for its proximity to Chihuahuan Desert routes that are increasingly popular among immigrants as border security tightens near more populated urban areas like Nogales and Juarez.
During the last few years, the number of unaccompanied immigrant minors from Latin American countries detained by U.S. border agents has skyrocketed, prompting legislators to come up with the idea of building a theme park. The State Department was also greatly involved, providing handsome bribes to Mexican officials to get the necessary building permits.
President Obama has not yet visited Disneyland-Chihuahua, but he said based on newspaper photographs, the 17-billion-dollar project is a “heck of a deal” for U.S. taxpayers, all of whom will be eligible for a $100 package that includes a Mexican entry visa and a Disneyland day pass.
“From what I read, Americans are going to pay less at Disneyland-Mexico than at other Disney theme parks, so folks should be very pleased,” Obama said.
Critics, however, cite the theme park as an example of government waste, arguing that half the construction budget remains unaccounted for. Critics also point out that U.S. officials have publicly offered free Disneyland entrance, ice cream and “Buzz Lightyear Votes Democrat” t-shirts for any undocumented minor immigrant who agrees to leave the U.S. — a promise that could end up being very costly for American taxpayers.
Additionally, at least a dozen smuggling tunnels connected to Disneyland-Chihuahua have already been discovered, one of which originated in the park’s underground water treatment facility and led to an auto repair shop 150 miles away in Odessa, Texas.
The White House is calling the criticism “unwarranted and opportunistic smears propagated by xenophobic political operatives funded by the nefarious Koch Brothers and other rich white conservatives bent on crushing the poor and killing every last kitten and puppy.”
“Hey, paying for these kids to have a free day at Disneyland is pennies compared to the cost of providing housing, legal aid and medical assistance for tens of thousands of young immigrants without papers,” Obama said. “You folks should be thanking us for coming up with what is, to be frank, a really solid idea.”
Obama added that if the project is as successful as he expects, he will ask Congress for funding to build a Six Flags theme park in Guatemala City. NBCUniversal has announced it is willing to construct a Universal Studios theme park in Tijuana — as long as the U.S. government matches funds, in which case the company said entrance will be free to any youth sporting gang tattoos, while non-gang members will enjoy a modest reduction.