Former American Immigration Lawyers Association President David Leopold certainly knows better.
As a prominent immigration attorney, he knows well that many of the most cumbersome immigration procedures that have contributed mightily to our current crisis were drafted by outside immigration lawyers with the deliberate intent of creating delays that benefit their clients. All clients are entitled to “due process.” But if the process that is due creates the sort of delays that defeat the intent of the overall immigration law, then the process becomes the policy.
Leopold also knows that the flood of illegal aliens now pouring across our border are taking advantage of the fact that unmanageable procedural process has succeeded in creating such huge court backlogs – 375,000 cases by the latest count – that these aliens are assured of remaining in the United States for years, at a minimum, and likely permanently.
Data tell us that the surge of illegal alien minors began with the president’s implementation of the unauthorized Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012. Violence and poverty are not new phenomena in Central America, but as recently as 2011 about 6,000 minors were apprehended at the border; this year DHS expects the total to rise to 90,000.
Even though the president insists that new arrivals will not be protected under DACA, the precedent has been set. If the United States has, in the president’s estimation, a moral obligation to grant legal status to illegal aliens who arrived here as minors in the past, we will have that same obligation to bestow those same benefits to those arriving now.
An immigration practitioner profits from providing representation to, among other people, aliens in the country illegally. J.P. Morgan said a person has two reasons for what they do, “a good one, and the real one.” As Leopold conceded, the conditions created by the immigration lobby and the Obama administration are resulting in tragedy for the children attempting the dangerous journey north, either in the hands of smugglers or on their own. Nevertheless, it now seems that some practitioner’s highest priority is generating more business for themselves and securing $15 million in federal funds to pay their fees.
To be clear, most Americans bear no animosity toward the minors attempting to gain entry to the U.S. But compassion does not require the United States to resettle endless numbers of minors and families here. Doing so would impose unsustainable burdens on the American people, while doing nothing to alter the conditions in the sending countries that Leopold and others cite as the reason for the mass exodus.
To the extent that the United States can assist these Central American nations get a handle on the poverty and violence that undeniably exist in those countries, we should. But, it would be sheer hubris to believe that we have the ability to solve their problems for them, and sheer madness to attempt it. A quick glance at what is transpiring right now in Iraq ought to remind us that nation-building is not our forte.
What is needed to stem the current crisis and prevent future ones is an end to policies that advertise to people around the globe that we will not enforce our immigration laws, and that we will periodically grant amnesty to those who immigrate illegally. We need bipartisan support to correct laws like the Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act of 2008, which create judicial, procedural and administrative overload and have the perverse effect of generating even more business for the human smuggling cartels.
None of this will occur until this administration loosens the grip of special interest groups, including immigration lawyers, who wield an absurd amount of influence over our immigration policies. We need sensible immigration policies that admit limited numbers of people who can most benefit our nation, and the political will to humanely enforce our laws in a way that discourage people around the world from risking the lives and safety of their children to get here.
Stein is president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).