Our border crisis grows worse as Washington sits on the sidelines

Our border crisis grows worse as Washington sits on the sidelines
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The situation on America’s southern border is worse than we’ve been led to believe. While much is being made of the “humanitarian” crisis on the border, few are paying attention to the much larger crisis, the one that has terrible consequences for our nation as a whole. This is the continuing movement of illegal immigrants, illegal drugs, and even human slaves across our porous and still largely undefended border.

I’m writing this from a hotel room, after having spent the last several days on the southwest border in Arizona and Texas, meeting with local sheriffs and Border Patrol agents to get an update on the situation they face as they try to stanch the flow of illegal immigrants, drug traffickers, and even human traffickers abusing our porous borders.

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The law enforcement authorities face different problems. In Arizona, they’re trying to stop drug traffickers who recruit teenage illegal immigrants to carry their poison across the border, while in Texas, they’re dealing with an influx of human trafficking that threatens to overwhelm their resources. Despite the differences, all the local sheriffs and Border Patrol agents with whom I met agreed on a few basics.

First, as one law enforcement officer put it, “DACA is amnesty, and amnesty is a magnet.” That is, when would-be travelers on the southern side of the border hear Washington talking about “DACA,” what they hear is “amnesty is on the way,” and that translates to “let’s get across the border as soon as we can, to make sure we’re included.” Consequently, attempts to cross the border illegally surge.

Second, if amnesty is granted to DACA recipients, we’ll have a new trade of counterfeiting residential leases purporting to show residence inside the United States going back to 2007. Fake drivers licenses and fake Social Security cards with stolen Social Security numbers already generate revenue for counterfeiters. Fake leases will do the same, and provide the “proof” that newly arrived illegal immigrants will need to demonstrate they “qualify” for the DACA amnesty.

Third, the drug cartels are more sophisticated than ever before. Before, they might send one or two runners across the border, testing to see our response. Now, they send seven, eight, or nine runners across a longer stretch of the border, timed to cross the border simultaneously, knowing that one or two might get caught, but the rest will succeed in overwhelming our Border Patrol agents through sheer strength in numbers. It’s a brute force attack, and it works, so well in fact, that law enforcement authorities think they’re catching just 10 percent to 20 percent of the drug runners.

Some senior officials in Washington are using the wrong metrics for success, the local law enforcement agents say. One told the story of a time when they completely shut down the illegal trafficking in an area. They shut it down so firmly that the cartels left the area and went elsewhere. Pleased with their success, they were dumbfounded to hear from their superiors that their efforts were deemed a failure. Why? Because no arrests made were made.

Fourth, “sanctuary cities” in the interior of the country, like San Francisco and Chicago, encourage illegal entry hundreds of miles away at the border. They act as a magnet, drawing the drugs deeper into our nation, as illegal entries surge. Those border communities pay the price for sanctuary city decisions.

Fifth, the stories we’re now hearing in the media about young children being “ripped from their parents” paint a misleading picture. The children are temporarily separated from their parents so their parents can be processed through the court system. The same would happen if children had been riding in a car that was being driven by their mother or father recklessly at 30 miles per hour over the speed limit.

Children go to a detention center while their parents are processed in the legal system, and are then reunited with their parents when their parents are released. Sometimes the process takes 24 or even 48 hours. Sometimes it takes as little as 30 minutes. The average processing time, I was told, is about eight hours.

Finally, and most importantly, in both Arizona and Texas, law enforcement authorities think Washington has it backwards. Rather than argue over a “fix” for the DACA population while the task of securing the border struggles for attention and funding, they think it makes more sense to secure the border first, and only then worry about what to do about the illegal immigrant population that’s already here.

As one put it, “When your faucet is leaking and you’ve got water on the floor, the first thing you do is fix the leak, then you mop up the floor.” It’s common sense. Sadly, common sense is in short supply in Washington these days. Perhaps more senior officials at Homeland Security and the Justice Department should spend time with their frontline troops along the border as I just did. I’d be happy to make some introductions.

Jenny Beth Martin is chairman of Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund.