Congress shirks its duty at the southern border

Monday, June 17, 2019
By Paul Martin
June 17, 2019

The Trump administration is doing just about everything it can to slow the flood of undocumented Mexicans and Central Americans coming to the U.S. and claiming asylum. But alleviating our growing border crisis is impossible unless Congress changes our immigration laws.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was right when he said Tuesday during a congressional hearing on border security that there is “absolutely no justification whatsoever for Congress to sit on the sidelines and watch as this crisis continues to unfold.” The emergency on the border is “getting worse and worse as Congress sits on its hands and does absolutely nothing” to help.

The border pandemonium is literally fatal. Since December, six migrants have died while in the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Five were children. This isn’t the fault of the Trump administration’s policies that aim to stanch the stream of illegal immigrants. It’s the result of a border patrol collapsing under the weight of hundreds of thousands of migrants making a dangerous and debilitating journey to the U.S. and needing urgent medical care as soon as they arrive.

In fiscal 2018, border agents apprehended nearly 106,000 “family units,” meaning families that made their way illegally onto U.S. soil and, more often than not, claimed asylum. We’re only halfway through this year, and that number has tripled to more than 316,000.

Why is this happening? It is because everyone south of the border knows that to secure indefinite legal protection to stay in the U.S., they need simply to arrive with children, who by law must not be detained for more than 20 days. When the child is released by border patrol, as it inevitably will be, so too is the person who came with them. That’s why the number of apprehensions of supposed families dwarfs apprehensions of single adults.

News media and Trump’s critics blame administration cruelty for the crisis. They’ve started referring to detention centers as “concentration camps” (see P.xx). But the crisis is caused by our nonsensical asylum laws, which are well intentioned but incapable of dealing with the sort of massive run on the border we’re seeing today. Our laws act as a magnet for illegal immigrants, encouraging migrants to make dangerous journeys with children, across Mexico, and enter our country without documentation.

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