Guy Farmer: Congress should fix border crisis

Somewhat surprisingly, the liberal New York Times last Tuesday urged Congress to give President Trump “his border money.” I agree with the Times on this vital national security issue.

In a convincing editorial, the Times acknowledged “there’s a crisis at the southern border, just not the one he (Trump) rants about. ... But as record numbers of Central American families flee violence and poverty in their homelands, they are overwhelming U.S. border systems, fueling a humanitarian crisis of overcrowding, disease and chaos.” The influential national newspaper went on to note “the Border Patrol is now averaging 1,200 daily arrests with many migrants arriving exhausted and sick.” With apologies to 19th century American poet Emma Lazarus, I view those unskilled, undereducated asylum seekers as the Third World’s “wretched refuse.”

The Times noted nearly three-quarters of the border funding requested by President Trump “would be earmarked for humanitarian needs” while none of the money “would go toward Mr. Trump’s border wall.” Nevertheless, “several hundred million dollars would go toward shoring up border security operations, including increasing the number of detention beds overseen by ICE, a non-starter for Democrats.”

“Consider how extraordinary it is that the Times feels compelled to describe any effort to enhance border security ... as ‘nonstarters’ for Democrats,” wrote Guy Benson, a well-informed columnist for the conservative website Townhall. “Unfortunately, a significant portion of the Democratic Party is overtly or effectively in favor of ‘catch and release’ policies that inexorably increase the number of illegal immigrants living in the United States.”

So why can’t Congress bring itself to give the president what he wants in order to alleviate the humanitarian disaster on our southern border with Mexico and provide funds so ICE and the Border Patrol can combat drug and human trafficking on the border? Because that would be regarded by left-wing Democrats as a “victory” for President Trump, and they won’t allow that to happen even though many moderate Democrats recognize the ever deteriorating humanitarian and security situation on the border.

According to the White House, “In February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountered more than 76,000 illegal border crossers and inadmissible aliens, and in March that number exceeded 100,000, the highest monthly level in more than a decade.” That’s a crisis by anyone’s definition and yet “progressive” Democrats refuse to address this high priority national security issue.

A recent ABC/Washington Post poll found “a full 72 percent of Democrats view illegal immigration as ‘a crisis or a serious problem’” while a recent report by the Homeland Security Advisory Council cited “a 600 percent increase in families migrating from Central America as responsible for bringing ‘immigration management systems to the point of collapse.’” That same report urged ICE “to crack down on ‘fake families’ using children as ‘pawns’ at the border.”

President Trump last Tuesday signed-off on a new immigration plan developed by his senior adviser/son-in-law Jared Kushner that would strengthen border security and create a more “merit-based” system that would give preference to skilled immigrants rather than to those who already have relatives in the U.S. Kushner’s plan makes good sense, which means it’s probably dead on arrival in Congress. At the same time, Trump is directing his top immigration officials to take much-needed steps to “toughen and accelerate the process” for Central American asylum seekers.

“Our asylum system is broken and human smugglers and criminals are profiting from its weaknesses and flaws,” said Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee. Congress should fix the broken asylum system, and the sooner the better.

Guy W. Farmer, a retired diplomat, follows immigration issues closely.


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