What do the Democrats mean when they say they want border security?

What do the Democrats mean when they say they want border security?
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On May 8, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Campaign Report: GOP set to ask SCOTUS to limit mail-in voting Liberal super PAC launches ads targeting vulnerable GOP senators over SCOTUS fight Senate GOP faces pivotal moment on pick for Supreme Court MORE (R-Texas), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration, held a hearing on the crisis at our southern border.

As of the end of March, 361,087 migrants had been apprehended making illegal crossings in fiscal 2019. Apprehensions reached an average of 3,000 a day in March.

In his opening statement, Cornyn expressed concern over the fact that the government is not able to prevent these illegal entries. 

Apparently, the Democrats do not share that concern.


When they declared that they want “smart, effective border security,” they said their proposal, “Addresses the only real crisis at the border – which is not a border security crisis but a humanitarian one – by improving CBP’s capacity to appropriately meet the needs of migrants who are temporarily in their custody.”

Accordingly, when the subcommittee’s Ranking Member, Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinFeinstein 'surprised and taken aback' by suggestion she's not up for Supreme Court fight Grand jury charges no officers in Breonna Taylor death Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court MORE (D-Ill.), gave his opening statement, he shifted attention to the way the Trump administration is treating the migrants.

President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden on Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: 'What country are we in?' Romney: 'Unthinkable and unacceptable' to not commit to peaceful transition of power Two Louisville police officers shot amid Breonna Taylor grand jury protests MORE separated children from their parents. He no longer does this.

Trump cut off aid to the Northern Triangle countries; while some claimed this only made things worse there, that would be true only if the aid was doing what it was supposed to — and a report from the Congressional Research Service indicates that probably wasn’t the case.

Trump terminated the Central American Minors [CAM] program. I agree that he should have kept this program. In fact, I have recommended working with UNHCR on an expanded version, but it should be part of a program to prevent illegal entries.

Trump set the lowest refugee admissions target America has ever had. 

Previous administrations didn’t accept many refugees from the Northern Triangle either. In fiscal 2015, President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Memo: Trump's strengths complicate election picture Obama shares phone number to find out how Americans are planning to vote Democrats' troubling adventure in a 'Wonderland' without 'rule of law' MORE only accepted 2,300 refugees from all of Latin America; 4,300 in fiscal 2014; and 4,400 in fiscal 2013. We now have nearly that many crossing illegally each day.

Representatives from the agencies that deal with the illegal crossings offered a number of interesting takeaways on the current threat to border security: 


The number of family units crossing the border illegally is increasing rapidly. Federal law is preventing the swift return of unaccompanied alien children from Central America. The number of illegal crossers who are claiming that they are afraid to return to their own countries is getting much higher.

Large migrant groups

Human smugglers are using large group crossings to draw border patrolmen away from the areas they are supposed to patrol, which leaves their patrol areas open for the smuggling of narcotics and single adults seeking to enter without being detected. 



The Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA) provides standards for the treatment of alien minors in government custody, and it requires releasing them from detention without unnecessary delay. This has been interpreted as meaning not detaining them for more than 20 days.

All Hell broke loose when the FSA required Trump to separate children from parents he was prosecuting for making an illegal crossing. He chose to forego the prosecution of illegal crossers with children, and he is only holding them for a short period of time.

Releasing family units became a powerful pull factor

In fiscal 2018, CBP apprehended approximately 161,000 members of family units, compared to only 105,000 in fiscal 2017.

The number rose to more than 215,000 in the first six months of fiscal 2019.

Fraudulent family claims

Smugglers are providing children for single adults who want to pose as families to avoid detention if they are apprehended.

DHS has detected more than 1,000 cases of fraudulent families since October. ICE has launched a program to give cheek swab DNA tests to determine whether the adults in family units are really related to the children they are bringing with them.

Families who are released unlikely to return for their hearings

As of the end of February, the immigration court had 855,807 pending cases. The average wait for a hearing has risen to 983 days, and it will get longer if the crisis continues.

No one knows whether the families being released now will be willing to return for their hearings, or even whether they will keep EOIR informed of their addresses to make it possible to send hearing notices to them.

An expedited docket experiment conducted by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), indicates that most of them will abscond.

From the end of September 2018 through late-April 2019, immigration judges on the expedited docket issued 7,724 orders of removal, and 87.5 percent of them were issued in absentia because the aliens had failed to return for their hearings.

The Democrats are right that the migrants who are flooding across our border should be treated humanely, but the decision on whether to let them into our country should be made on the basis of our immigration laws, not on whether they bring a child with them.

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.