The federal government has reopened, but the talking points pushed by the Democrats about the southern border remain the same. They falsely say “there is no crisis.” They claim that a barrier or wall would do nothing to curb illegal immigration or drug smuggling, which is demonstrably untrue. The “humanitarian challenge” that members of Congress refer to is actually an inundation of migrants at the border that hurts the overall mission of law enforcement officials and threatens to crash the system.
What is new here is the unprecedented and growing surge of migrant family arrivals at our border with Mexico over the past year. Last month alone, more than 27,000 family units, defined as at least one adult and child together, were processed into custody. This is putting a major strain on resources meant for a primarily law enforcement mission. In fact, human smugglers for the cartels use the surrender of family units as a diversionary tactic. Once Border Patrol is engaged in one area, the smugglers will use that opportunity to run drugs onto American soil.
Logistically, government agencies that are meant to police, detain, and process illegal aliens are bursting at the seams. Most Border Patrol holding facilities were designed decades ago for predominantly individual male illegal alien entrants. Now there are crowded with women and children, an increasing number of whom have serious medical needs. Cases of H1N1, scabies, tuberculosis, and other highly infectious diseases have been reported among recent border crossers.
Border Patrol is supposed to be a law enforcement agency tasked with preventing illegal entry into the United States. Instead, it is now often forced to act more like a makeshift Red Cross, providing food, housing, and medicine to women and children who have placed themselves in dangerous circumstances. This all comes at large cost to taxpayers, and the provision of frontline medical care to illegal crossers and asylum seekers will only act as more incentive to make the journey northward.
The waves of migrants have also exploited and overwhelmed the United States asylum system. The Democrats and their mainstream media allies often claim that asylum seekers have a legal right to have their cases heard. While this is true, it certainly does not address the reality of what is happening every day at the border. Our asylum process is being abused on a very massive scale. As the word gets out, the problem grows worse.
A look at Immigration and Customs Enforcement numbers over the past year tells the tale. Over 90 percent of asylum requests from Central American countries were denied. Over 31 percent of those who passed a credible fear interview did not show up for their immigration hearing, and a stunning 40 percent never even filed the asylum application. Even if a migrant fails the “credible fear” test, which has a very low bar, that person can still demand to see an immigration judge to have the claim heard.
If asylum seekers attend the immigration hearing and are denied asylum, they believe they can continue to work and live in the United States, despite at that being illegal. In almost all cases, they are correct. In 2017, only 1 percent of the more than 226,000 removals conducted by ICE involved alternative to detention cases. There is simply no political will or the necessary resources to track them down for removal proceedings.
Essentially, if migrants know enough about how the current immigration system of the United States works, and are willing to lie to federal officials and wait for a while, they can skip the normal legal immigration process merely by walking up to the southern border and surrendering. This is not just a loophole. This is a gaping hole in our broken immigration system. Moreover, there is no reason to believe that any of this will get better.
On the contrary, the latest indicators show that it will only get worse. A new caravan of 12,000 Guatemalan migrants is making its way north to the United States. There has been an uptick in Guatemalan migrants, alongside their Honduran counterparts, making their way to our southern border on foot. Instability in Venezuela could further prompt a refugee outflow. All this is occurring as Border Patrol and ICE are scrambling to execute a mission that is politicized, complicated, and constantly in flux.
Congress needs to act. There must be clarity in the asylum process and penalties enforced for fraud. Asylum seekers should be forced to wait on the Mexican side of the border until their cases are heard. Those who do not show up for their immigration hearings on the American side must be deported. Funding for wall improvements and barrier fences for additional sectors of the border are desperately needed. The $5.7 billion request from President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE is a good start. If the Democrats are truly serious about border security, they will act in good faith and do what is necessary. Yes, that means a wall, or a fence, or whatever they are willing to call it.
The border crisis has been decades in the making. Much of it can be fixed in a matter of months, but only if partisanship gives way to sound policy. With another possible shutdown looming, the American people will see over the next few weeks who is serious, and who is just playing politics.
Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) is the cohost of the show “Rising” on Hill TV.