House Democrats prioritize illegal aliens as border crisis rages

House Democrats prioritize illegal aliens as border crisis rages
© GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images

More than 100,000 people were apprehended crossing our southern border in each of March and April. Then, because of rampant abuse of our humanitarian asylum system and a lack of necessary detention space, many of those people are being released into the United States. Others are using children as de facto “get-out-of-jail-free cards” and, in the process, endangering the lives of those children.

In light of the undeniable crisis at the southern border, it is imperative that the government act. Late last month, the White House presented its blueprint to address the situation. The plan calls for, among other things, closing loopholes in our asylum laws, expedited termination of meritless asylum claims, allowing families to be detained as a unit, and returning unaccompanied minors to their homelands. Collectively, these policy changes would eliminate many of the incentives that are driving the border crisis.

House Democrats also unveiled their immigration proposal. In the alternative universe where many Democratic lawmakers reside, there is no border crisis, the abuse of political asylum on a grand scale is not occurring, children are not being placed in harm’s way and dying while entering the U.S., and aliens being released on a daily basis is not a problem (unless they happen to be released in the deep blue sanctuary jurisdictions they represent). The crisis, as far as the House majority is concerned, is the lack of amnesty for illegal aliens already here, and the first package of immigration-related legislation approved by the Democratic-controlled Judiciary Committee aims to “fix” that problem.

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H.R.6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, is actually two amnesty bills that leadership decided to package together. The first bill in this package is the Dream Act of 2019, which would grant amnesty to illegal aliens who entered the United States as minors and benefits roughly 3 million illegal aliens. The second is the American Promise Act, which would grant amnesty to people who were allowed to remain in the United States under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) because of political turmoil or natural disaster in their homelands. The fact that we already have fulfilled our promise of temporary protection, and they have reneged on their promise to return home, does not seem to register with anyone in this alternative universe.

Notably, these Democratic bills, which are expected to hit the floor of the House this week, do not even acknowledge the crisis at the border or the abuse of our asylum process, much less offer any steps to remedy the situation. They offer a clear indication that amnesty and virtually unchecked migration have become the priority of the party on immigration, and that enforcement — in almost any form — has become an anathema for Democrats.

Their views contrast sharply with those of the American public, which sees the ongoing immigration situation as a pressing problem and overwhelmingly supports closing asylum loopholes and securing our borders. According to a recent Harvard-Harris poll, two-thirds of voters think that “people with questionable asylum claims” should be denied entry to the country, and 55 percent believe that the border barriers Democratic lawmakers steadfastly oppose are “effective at reducing illegal immigration.” Even more remarkable is that more than 90 percent of those surveyed severely underestimated the number of people who are crossing the border illegally and lodging asylum claims.

The Democratic leadership’s decision to move a package of bills that prioritizes amnesty for illegal aliens and people who accepted temporary protection, while ignoring the crisis raging at the border, only reinforces the public’s perception that Congress has lost touch with reality. The situation at the border is so severe that John Sandweg, who was acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) under President Obama (and one of the architects of his hands-off immigration policies), observed, “I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything near this,” while the Washington Post declared the “U.S. immigration system on the brink” (of collapse).

Large-scale amnesty for illegal aliens would be bad policy, even under the best of circumstances. Amnesty in the midst of a full-blown border crisis is an affront to common sense and the American people. The House’s actions must be met with a firm veto threat by the president, and an accelerated effort from the Republican-controlled Senate to provide a legislative vehicle for the White House’s plan to control the border and end asylum abuse.

Dan Stein is president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in Washington, D.C. Follow on Twitter @FAIRImmigration.