Congress must act to stop mass migration of illegal aliens

The American immigration system at the Mexican border is failing. Despite the prominent role of the wall in political fights between President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE and Democrats, that is not the core of the current problem. Migrants, predominantly from Central America, are systematically exploiting and abusing asylum processes to enter the country in record setting numbers.

What we are witnessing today is the early phase of an illegal immigration tsunami, the likes of which this country has not experienced in decades, if ever. Expectations are that more than 100,000 apprehensions will be recorded at the border for the month of March. At that rate, estimates for year 2019 place the overall number of illegal border crossings above one million. This has some profound implications for the rule of law, national sovereignty, and the political future of this country.

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I spent time with Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas, last week. They are overwhelmed. Their facilities and manpower needs are insufficient to their expanded mission. They cannot adequately process the masses of migrants who are surrendering at the border. None of the border and immigration enforcement agencies are meant to run refugee shelters and provide medical care, but that is what they are being forced to do.

There are enormous risks and downsides to all of this. Some migrants and children have died in custody and, given the hot season ahead, it is very likely more could lose their lives to illness or exposure. The situation is hazardous for all involved. Customs and Border Patrol is not the Red Cross, it is a law enforcement organization. Its national security mission is suffering while the cartels are making billions off human smuggling.

Across Latin America and beyond, the word is out about the weak seams in our immigration system. The incentives for migrants to involve children in this dangerous journey are overwhelming. Adults who want to enter the United States know that if they surrender at the border with at least one accompanying child, they will not be criminally prosecuted for illegal entry. Within 48 hours of apprehension, the overwhelming likelihood is that they will be released into the American interior.

Very few of these migrants will ultimately qualify for asylum, and even fewer will be deported. By the time their court date arrives, years will likely have passed. No serious observer believes mass deportations will follow. Migrants are adjusting their strategies to this. Border Patrol agents in the San Diego sector earlier this year told me to expect a surge in pregnant migrants surrendering under the “credible fear” standard.

In El Paso last week, I saw visibly pregnant migrants surrendering at the border. None of this is an accident. They will receive the highest priority to be processed out of custody and immediately transferred onto American soil. If they give birth here, they will have effectively gained permanent residency for themselves and citizenship for a family member. This is a huge magnet for more migrants to come to the United States.

There is nowhere near enough political urgency on this issue. The ground truth of the border crisis has been competing with a shameless media disinformation campaign that there is no crisis. Journalists comparing overall apprehension numbers this year to illegal crossings in the 2000s are misleading the public. The situations are not comparable. Those illegal entries in the past were overwhelmingly single Mexican males who were rapidly deported back into Mexico. That is not the case anymore.

The spike in migrants are “family units” from countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador who, under asylum laws, will have multiple rounds of due process to help them stay in the United States. With immigration courts increasingly swamped, migrants from these countries who gain initial entry are almost guaranteed to stay for years if not forever.

In doing so, these and other migrants have violated our laws and skipped to the front of the line of our immigration system, including ahead of legitimate refugees from countries where persecution by a government is all too real. If systematic scamming of our immigration laws does not constitute an “open border” for those with children from noncontiguous countries south of the border, it is something very close to it.

President Trump has threatened to shut the border to gain greater cooperation from the countries of Central America. This may be a long shot, but the situation is desperate. Additionally, his administration could try executive orders, but they would get tied up in the courts and the migrant flood would continue. This is why Congress must step in.

There are intertwined humanitarian, rule of law, and national security crises ongoing at our southern border that only legislation can address. There must be clarity on who qualifies for asylum. Courts and other infrastructure should be moved to the border. A third “safe country” agreement with Mexico should be solidified and expanded so that migrants can await their cases outside of American territory. Interior enforcement must be escalated for those not awarded asylum.

It is difficult to look at this fiasco without thinking that most Republicans have no courage, while Democrats have no desire, to seriously tackle these problems. If one political party in this country wants a de facto open border, they should make the case openly to the American people. Regardless of the wisdom or fairness of taking in vast numbers of illegal aliens, the American people did not vote for this, and our laws, if enforced, do not allow it. Our government must close these immigration loopholes soon, or our entire system will be in danger of collapse.

Buck Sexton is the cohost of the morning show “Rising” on Hill TV and the host of “The Buck Sexton Show” on radio and podcast. He is both a former officer at the Central Intelligence Agency and a former analyst at the New York City Police Department. You can follow him on Twitter @BuckSexton.