If President Joe Biden truly wants to end the border crisis—and yes, it’s a crisis—he can do so. It will, however, require a leader who seeks an orderly immigration system that supports America’s sovereignty and security, and who has no partisan motive to permit illegal immigration for political power. Such a leader must also have no issue with who might have implemented or used such policies and programs in the past.
That’s a tall order in today’s political climate. But that leader could achieve sustained border security in seven steps.
First, though, we need a current snapshot of the southern land border. In February, more than 100,000 individuals tried to illegally enter the U.S. That number of apprehensions is the highest for the month of February since 2006.
The most alarming aspect of the crisis is the volume of unaccompanied children crossing the border. In fiscal year 2020, CBP encountered 33,000 unaccompanied children. In just the first five months of fiscal year 2021, CBP has already encountered approximately 30,000 UACs.
Border traffickers reportedly made $14 million per day in February, anonymous border patrol sources told Fox News. The human smugglers know the immigration gaps and loopholes and coach migrants on how to exploit them.
Most abuse the humanitarian relief of asylum by claiming a fear of returning to their home country upon arrival at our border. They may be initially detained, but due to too few detention beds, too many migrants, and the interpretation of one federal judge of the Flores settlement agreement, children may not be detained more than 20 days. Most migrants are released into the U.S., too often not to be seen again.
We can fix this. To secure the border, the U.S. government should:
1. Treat migrants from noncontiguous and contiguous countries the same. The administration is returning Mexican migrants to Mexico, but permits migrants from other countries into the U.S. Strangely, Congress legislated in 2008 that contiguous and non-contiguous unaccompanied children should also be treated differently. This disparate treatment has led to very high numbers of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras coming to our border over the past three decades. All should be returned to Mexico or their home country, not brought into the U.S. Migrants travel to the U.S. when they know it is easier to get in; they do not travel here when they perceive the border to be closed.
2. End the Flores settlement agreement. The purpose of immigration detention is to ensure a migrant's removal from the U.S. once a judge issues a final order. Court proceedings are often not begun within 20 days, let alone completed. Judge Dolly Gee’s 20-day order is incredibly unrealistic and leads to a “catch and release” posture that incentivizes more future illegal immigration.
3. Stop giving immigration benefits to aliens because they are children. Under leftist policies, illegal immigration, from entry through obtaining a green card, revolves around child migrants — whether accompanied or not. Their policies parole unaccompanied children into the country, limit the number of days DHS may detain them, provide them with taxpayer-funded guardians and attorneys, grant them special immigrant juvenile visas, and years later, amnesty because they entered as children. Such policies have clearly encouraged more parents to send their kids north unaccompanied, which enriches smugglers and traffickers.
The left sold these policies as protecting alien children from trafficking, but they have been an abject failure. These incentives need to be removed to protect children and decrease trafficking.
4. Complete the planned wall system construction, including the access roads, lights, sensors, and technology. Border Patrol agents have repeatedly stated that walls work. And just as important as the walls are the surrounding infrastructure and technology that makes up the wall system. Border agents advised the last administration on where such wall systems were necessary and where they were not.
Seeking to provide the agents with what they need to do their job, the Trump Administration obtained designated appropriated funds from Congress, as well as Treasury asset forfeiture and DOD military construction funds. President Biden stopped wall construction on his first day in office, at an estimated cost of $2 billion to $3 billion to terminate construction contracts.
This piece originally appeared in The Detroit News