Pavlich: Trump and Obama officials agree — there's a crisis at the border

Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan went to El Paso, Texas, with a desperate message for those back in Washington: the border is at a breaking point. 

“Two weeks ago, I briefed the media and testified in Congress that our immigration system was at the breaking point. That breaking point has arrived this week at our border. CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our southwest border,” McAleenan said. “On Monday and Tuesday CBP started the day with over 12,000 migrants in our custody. As of this morning, that number was 13,400. A high number for us is 4,000. A crisis level is 6,000 – 13,000 is unprecedented.”

The numbers are staggering, and they are unsustainable.

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The same week of McAleenan’s visit, Border Patrol agents were forced to house immigrants under the El Paso del Norte International Bridge because detention centers are completely full. 

In Yuma, Arizona Border Patrol agents have been forced to release hundreds of illegal immigrants onto the streets due to facilities being at full capacity. 

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump casts uncertainty over top intelligence role Juan Williams: Trump, his allies and the betrayal of America Trump taps Texas Rep. Ratcliffe to replace Dan Coats as top intelligence official MORE traveled to Honduras last week to address the problem at its source. During her trip, she met with security officials from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and entered into a new agreement to deal with what she describes as a “system in free fall.”

“America shares common cause with the countries of Central America in confronting these challenges,” Nielsen said about the new Memorandum of Cooperation between the four countries. “We all want to enforce our laws, ensure a safe and orderly migrant flow, protect our communities, facilitate legal trade and travel, support vulnerable populations, interdict dangerous and illicit drug flow, and secure our borders.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agreement works to combat human trafficking and smuggling, combats criminal organizations and gangs, expands intelligence sharing and strengthens border security in the air, on the land and at sea. 

“I look forward to implementing this historic agreement and working with my Northern Triangle counterparts to help secure all of our nations and to end the humanitarian and security crisis we face,” Nielsen continued.

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This agreement is certainly admirable and Central American officials must take responsibility for the outflow of people from their countries, but only the United States, through the executive and Congress, can secure its borders and control illegal immigration. As long as the magnets of easy asylum claims and activist-court ordered non-enforcement of immigration law continue, a million people will show up at the border by the end of the year.

While Trump administration officials have been sounding the alarm for years on this issue, and continue to do so, former Obama administration officials are backing them up. 

“On Tuesday there were 4,000 apprehensions. I know that 1,000 overwhelms the system. I can’t imagine what 4,000 a day looks like. So, we are truly in a crisis,” former Obama Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said during an interview with MSNBC this week. 

“The [CBP] Commissioner said it this week, he said ‘hey, we only have so much space.’ 4,000 capacity, 6,000’s a crisis. We have 13,000 right now. There’s no more room at the inn, there’s nowhere for them to go. And because of the broken asylum laws and bad judicial precedent like Flores, it’s actually law that DHS has to release these people,” former Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan said on Fox Business. 

There are easy things Congress can do to stop the flow of this crisis: change the Flores settlement to allow for longer detention of family units and end catch and release, increase the threshold for making an asylum claim and reform deportation laws so they are immediately applicable to Central Americans. 

The Mexican government can also help. After all, tens of thousands of Central Americans have illegally traveled through Mexico to get to the United States. Then-Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Gerónimo Gutiérrez Fernandez has said in the past he believes immigration should be orderly and legal. His country should be held to that standard. 

“Mexico’s migration policy is to seek that any migration is legal, safe, orderly and respectful of basic human rights. And that’s the way we act upon immigration,” Gutiérrez said in an interview with Fox News. “We certainly do not advocate for a regular immigration from our nationals of – or any other country.”

Gutiérrez made that statement on April 2, 2018. One year later, illegal immigration from Mexico is still happening, has become more unsafe, more inhumane and extremely disorderly. Individuals illegally traveling through Mexico aren’t seeking asylum, as they claim, to flee violence and persecution. Instead, Mexico has waved many of them through while claiming cooperation. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE has threatened to shut down the border if Mexico doesn’t do more to stop the chaos, and according to senior White House officials, he’s serious about doing so. Mexico’s government has an obligation to act immediately in order to prevent an economic disruption on both sides of the border. 

This is a bipartisan crisis. Officials from two ideologically opposed administrations agree. It’s time for Congress to put legislation on the table to end it, without gumming up the gears with “comprehensive immigration reform.” This is an emergency and a narrow bill that cuts off the flow is of dire need. The current situation is a threat to American sovereignty. It is lawless and will have severe, negative impacts on the United States if it is allowed to continue.

Pavlich is the editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor.