Will Democrats be held accountable for diverting attention from border crisis when there was time to fix it?

As Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) must know what is happening at the border. Yet he asserted at a recent hearing that President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE issued a national emergency declaration on the basis of a “nonexistent emergency” at the border.

Thompson claimed that when it comes to border security, the Trump administration is misleading the American people. Maybe, but I watched a video of the hearing and it seemed to me that the Democrats are the ones who are misleading the American people.

According to the testimony of the hearing’s only witness, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the country is facing a very real humanitarian and security crisis. Uncontrolled illegal migration is posing a serious and growing risk to public safety, national security, and the rule of law.

She is not the first DHS Secretary to make that claim. Every DHS Secretary since the Department’s inception has sounded the alarm about our unsecured border.

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Nielsen testified that DHS expects to apprehend more migrants crossing the border illegally in the first half of fiscal 2019 than it did in the entirety of fiscal 2017, and the numbers are rising. This, however, is not the only problem.

There also has been a change in who is making the illegal crossings.

Historically, illegal crossers were predominantly single adult males from Mexico who generally could be removed within 48 hours if they had no legal right to stay. Now, more than 60 percent of them are family units and unaccompanied alien children.

The detention facilities were intended to be short-term processing centers that would hold adult men for 72 hours or less. They are not suitable for lengthy detentions of women and children.

Families generally cannot be detained anyway. Detaining children for more than 20 days would violate the Flores Settlement Agreement, and because DHS has stopped separating children from parents, their parents are released too.

This has become a pull factor that encourages more undocumented aliens to make illegal crossings with children, and “recycling rings” are providing children to make it possible for aliens who don’t have children to gain entry as family units.

Most of the families are asylum-seekers from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Only ten percent of them are granted asylum by an immigration judge, and the ones who are determined to have no legal right to stay generally abscond before they can be deported.

The practice of coming here in large groups also has increased. By fiscal 2018, it had grown to 13 groups, and CBP has encountered 68 groups so far in fiscal 2019.

Transnational criminal organizations are using the groups to distract CBP officers. While the officers are handling large groups, the sections of the border they should be patrolling are open.

Nielsen requested legislation to promote family unity by terminating the Flores Settlement Agreement, to ensure the safe and prompt return of unaccompanied alien children, and to crack down on asylum fraud.

Instead of focusing on these problems or on Nielsen’s requests for help in dealing with them, the Democrats diverted attention to other matters, such as the separation of children from their parents and detaining children in “cages.” Nielsen disputed that characterization of the facilities that are used to detain children.

The stated purpose of the hearing was to find “The way forward on Border Security,” not to blame DHS for practices that have been abandoned already or are in the process of being abandoned.

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The separations occurred when DHS was prosecuting all aliens who crossed the border illegally, and DHS no longer prosecutes illegal crossers who have children with them. As for the “cages,” Nielsen explained why DHS does not have appropriate detention facilities for women and children. I will add that Trump has begun the process for establishing such facilities.

The sheer number of undocumented, asylum-seeking aliens is a problem too.

The immigration court has 855,807 pending cases. The average wait for a hearing is 995 days, which is almost three years.

The immigration court has around 400 judges, including 31 new ones it added this month.

It would require several times than many judges to bring the backlog under control, and the immigration court already is having difficulty finding qualified lawyers who want to be immigration judges.

According to the American Bar Association, “Immigration law is widely regarded as second only to tax law in its statutory complexity,” but only seven of the new judges have a substantial amount of immigration law experience. Nineteen of them have no immigration law experience at all.

Trump has not been able to solve these problems, and the Democrats seem to be ignoring them.

Apparently, the way forward for the Democrats is to divert attention from uncontrolled illegal immigration and to focus it instead on complaints about Trump.

Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years. He subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.