U.S.-Mexican Border crisis
The abuse has become systematic
All aspects of border control and security in America are deteriorating. The migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico Border will only get worse.
President Donald Trump’s promise to enforce immigration law and establish border security played a large part in his 2016 election victory. As a political outsider, Trump was in a unique position to shake up the immigration conversation within the GOP and for the rest of the country. But despite his promise to “build a wall” and escalate deportations of illegal aliens (the proper legal term) within the United States, the U.S.-Mexico border is more ineffective, porous, and problematic than it has been in decades- perhaps ever.
A quick review of the numbers from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) tells the tale. There were over 100,000 illegal crossings at America’s southern border for the month of March 2019. This is the highest number for any month in over a decade. The current trend puts the level of illegal crossings on track to reach over 1 million for the year. This is mass migration, predominantly from the so-called “Northern triangle” Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, is only possible because of the exploitation of loopholes in laws meant to protect asylum seekers and family units.
U.S. immigration law is a vast, tangled mess of statutes. There are many rules that are simply not enforced due to resource constraints of law enforcement agencies. Many elected officials prefer that immigration law be largely ignored or actively subverted, as evidenced with the proliferation of so-called “sanctuary cities” across America. But it is the area of law that covers asylum seeking that has paved the way for the current crisis at America’s southern border.
Asylum is traditionally a category of immigrant that covers those who must leave their country of origin for reasons of political or religious persecution. Asylum is not offered to those who simply “want a better life” or seek economic opportunity. Anyone who chooses to come to America in search of a job or access to the welfare state should go through the standard immigration application process. But there are weak spots in the system, notably the legal standard for “credible fear” as it pertains to asylum seekers. This area of immigration law was the crack in the dam that has now broken and led to a deluge of illegal border crossings.
Here’s the abbreviated version: if a migrant presents himself or herself at the border as a national from any non-contiguous country (Canada and Mexico are excluded ) and claims that he or she has a “credible fear” or persecution in their home country, that individual has a legal right to have the asylum claim adjudicated in a U.S. court.
In addition, if it is a family group (two or more members of the same family with at least one child) traveling together, there is a 20-day limit that applies to the detention of the child. This means that those caught entering America illegally can, upon initial detention, claim a credible fear, and if they have a child present, it is likely they will be released into the American interior within as little as 48 hours.
The abuse of this has become systematic. Migrants routinely lie about their “credible fear claim” to Border Patrol officers, knowing that the frontline verification procedures are insufficient to disprove their statements. They recognize that, with over 800,000 claims backlogged in immigration courts, it is likely that any migrant over the last 12 months who is now in the queue for an asylum hearing will wait up to five years before entering a court room.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency tasked with enforcing border, customs, trade, and immigration laws, estimates that less than half of the migrants who claim credible fear will ever show up for their court date. Of those who do show up, a small percentage will receive asylum. All told, it is estimated that 90% of the hundreds of thousands of Central American migrants who have entered the United States over the last year will not receive legal asylum. Yet only a tiny fraction of that number will be deported back to their country of origin, despite that fact that this is what the law requires.
Over the past six months, I have traveled to the San Diego-Tijuana and El Paso- Juarez international border crossings to observe and interview border patrol operations. The frontline law enforcement officers of Border Patrol are utterly overwhelmed. Instead of interdicting drug traffickers and preventing human smuggling, the men and women of Border Patrol are bogged down with “surrenders” of migrants who know that family unit travel and “credible fear” claims have become an enormous back door for entry into America.
This has negative effects for all aspects of border law and order. The massively profitable, violent, and destabilizing Mexican drug cartels are making hundreds of millions of dollars from the smuggling of these migrants across territories they control in addition to the billions they make from illicit drugs. The cartels have adopted their tactics to benefit from the drain the migrant groups create for American law enforcement. The human smugglers (“coyotes”) will direct a large group of “asylum seekers” to cross illegally at one part of the border and then, when Border Patrol are busy processing the migrants, cartel “mules” will run a large shipment of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, or other drugs across a wide open sector.
As a result of the enormous surge of family units and false asylum seekers, all aspects of border control and security in America are deteriorating. There is no way to know exactly how much this migrant tidal wave has impacted the black market for drugs, but opioid deaths from overdose went above 70,000 in 2017, an all time high. Human smuggling, including sex trafficking, is also a problem on the rise because of the inundation of law enforcement agencies with migrants at the border.
There is no reason to believe the situation will improve anytime soon. Democrats and Republicans have very little common ground on the issues of illegal immigration and asylum seeking. The Democratic party reflexively opposes efforts to tighten up enforcement and does everything it can to refuse the imposition of real penalties on those who cross the border illegally. Republicans, for their part, waver between some kind of deal to legalize the millions of illegal immigrants already in America, and efforts to establish some control of the border along with serious enforcement of immigration laws in the American interior.
All of this should force a deeper conversation about the nature of the nation-state. If the increasingly brazen advocates of a de facto open border in America really believe that anyone should be able to come or go as they please, they should make that case openly. If every migrant from Central America who prefers the United States to their home country should be allowed to stay, it is worth asking why we America should have an immigration system at all?
President Trump has said that a “country without borders is not a country.” If America doesn’t address its immigration crisis soon, it will find out whether Trump is correct, one way or another.
Buck Sexton has traveled recently to San Diego-Tijuana and El Paso- Juarez international border crossings and observed and interviewed border patrol operations.
Buck Sexton(@BuckSexton) is co-host of Hill.TV's "Rising" and host of the nationally syndicated "The Buck Sexton Show” on radio and podcast. His program is heard on over 120 stations across the US, and Buck has been a frequent guest host for Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Formerly, Buck was a CIA analyst in the Counterterrorism Center and the Office of Iraq Analysis, and served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also worked in the NYPD Intelligence Division on counterterrorism cases.