Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted her impressions of conditions at border detention centers. She insulted the memories of Holocaust survivors by comparing the border detention centers to “concentration camps.” She also falsely charged that some detainees were being forced to drink toilet water. Always the consummate narcissist, she hurled insults at federal law enforcement agents while reportedly refusing to actually tour a border facility in El Paso, Texas when given the opportunity. This self-professed Democrat-Socialist hypocritically voted against humanitarian aid for the migrants, including even the bill proposed initially by her own Democrat House leadership.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) secretly recorded selective conditions he witnessed during his own visit to a southwest Texas detention facility. Referring to the would-be asylum seekers, he declared, “They need to be moved out of these facilities as quickly as possible, they’re being held way too long, unnecessarily.” Rep. Castro decided that it was not worth his time to vote on the bipartisan Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act that passed the House on June 27th. He placed his partisan attacks against the Trump administration over doing something tangible to provide meaningful help immediately to the migrants, especially the children, whom he professes to care so much about.
Where is the compassion for the homeless veterans in the Democrats’ own backyards? Where is the compassion for the children in the inner city daycare centers in cities run by Democrat politicians? Where is the outrage at the smugglers who have profited off human trafficking of women and children from Central America, enticed by promises of asylum, free benefits and protection in sanctuary cities thanks to the open borders crowd? Where are the efforts from open borders elitists in sanctuary cities and states to press for using available community facilities in their neighborhoods, college dormitories and schools that are vacant during the summer, and vacant city or state-owned properties to house some of the migrants until a more permanent solution can be found?
Yes, conditions are subpar in some border detention facilities. A report just issued by the Homeland Security Office of Inspector General described the “serious overcrowding” and prolonged detention, including of children, it found at the Border Patrol facilities it visited in the Rio Grande Valley. “We are concerned that overcrowding and prolonged detention represent an immediate risk to the health and safety of DHS agents and officers, and to those detained,” the report said, referring to the Department of Homeland Security. The report acknowledged the “challenges” faced by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is supposed to be responsible only for short-term care, noting that “within DHS, long-term detention is ICE’s responsibility.” The problem, the report recognized, was lack of funds to provide more capacity for ICE to handle the responsibility for longer term detentions. Thus, already strained CBP facilities had to be used to house detainees beyond when they should have been turned over to ICE, because ICE could not handle the overflow.
“During the week of our visits, ICE had approximately 54,000 beds occupied nationwide,” the report observed, “but was only funded for 42,000 beds. In our discussions with ICE field management about this situation, they explained that their capacity to find additional bed space is strained. According to ICE field management, ICE has already increased capacity at its Port Isabel facility from 800 beds to an “emergency level” of 1,200, and then further increased capacity to 1,550 by adding plastic beds in some cells. However, the facility remains unable to accommodate most Border Patrol detainees. From Port Isabel and other detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley, ICE can fly detainees to other ICE facilities, but officials said only limited beds are available nationwide. As a result, Border Patrol continues to hold detainees for more than 72 hours in overcrowded conditions while they await transfer.”
Democrats and other open border advocates used the report to highlight the overcrowded conditions – the symptom of the crisis – in order to savage the Trump administration. However, without sufficient funds to relieve overcrowding and provide more adequate facilities, the Trump administration could do little but engage in triage. Congress, as the Democrats have so often declared, is responsible for appropriating money needed to meet the challenges at the border. Democrats had to be dragged after months of delay to finally support a bipartisan measure to fund additional relief, although with no help from their more progressive contingent. This infusion of funding is already resulting in improved conditions.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) took no prisoners in condemning the Democrats’ reckless demagoguery during his appearance Tuesday evening on Fox News’ “The Story.” Referring to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez by her nickname AOC, he accused her of ratcheting up her lies. “People like AOC are operating off of a false premise, and it’s deliberately designed to misinform the American people for her political ends,” Rep. Crenshaw said. “First there was no crisis at all. Then it was a ‘manufactured crisis,’ then it was a crisis completely created by Trump, then there were ‘concentration camps,’ then people are Nazis.”
Commenting on the inflammatory remarks by both AOC and Castro, Rep. Crenshaw said, “I don’t see them offering up any space in their own homes. They are not offering a better solution… what they really want is ‘no enforcement’.” Speaking more generally about the open border Democrats, he added, “What they’re really doing is trying to stand on their moral high horse and sling arrows at everybody else while not offering a solution. They fought us tooth and nail against that $4.5 million in humanitarian aid the president needed, that DHS needed.”
Beyond dealing with the immediate crisis, there are push and pull forces at work that will perpetuate the problem unless they are appropriately confronted. The push forces come from the countries of origin. The president of El Salvador candidly admitted that people desperate for a better life were leaving his country to go to the United States because his country failed them. They were not fleeing government persecution, which would entitle them to seek asylum. They wanted jobs paying a living wage but could not find them in El Salvador.
“They fled El Salvador, they fled our country,” El Salvador’s president declared. “It is our fault. We can say President Trump’s policies are wrong. We can say Mexico’s policies are wrong. But what about our blame?” He added that “if people have an opportunity for a decent job, a decent education, a decent health care system and security, I know that forceful migration will be reduced to zero.”
We can provide El Salvador and the other Central American origin countries with financial assistance, but it will not reach the people who need it so long as the governments of these countries are corrupt and do not use their own resources to provide an adequate safety net. One step for the United States to take is to tax the billions of dollars in remittances sent every year by migrants in the U.S. to their home countries. The proceeds would then be directed to public social spending in the home countries that the U.S. should insist on monitoring.
The pull forces come in part from the transit country of Mexico, which does not do enough to protect its own borders and enforce its immigration laws against migrants entering from Central America. President Trump is doing what he can to pressure Mexico into correcting this problem and agreeing to host asylum seekers removed from the United States while their asylum hearings are pending. The pull forces also come from the porous border between the United States and Mexico and the lures of loophole-ridden immigration laws in the United States that allow anyone who manages to set foot on U.S. soil to claim asylum. Open border advocates further incentivize migrants to risk their lives on the long trek north from Central America by dangling free goodies, sanctuaries from law enforcement agents, and promises of amnesty and a path to citizenship. The open border advocates also run interference against any practical measures such as a border wall that the Trump administration tries to take to slow down the massive migrant influx.
The immigration problem can be fixed by reducing the push and pull forces in a humane manner. For example, change the immigration laws to have asylum seekers apply for asylum in their home countries and stay there until their applications are approved. Tax remittances and use the proceeds to help people in need in the home countries. Work with Mexico to enforce its laws at its southern border and reach an agreement to treat Mexico as a first country of asylum for those seeking asylum and entering Mexico from Central American countries. Hire more immigration judges to speed up the time it takes to conduct asylum hearings. Save lives by beefing up border security, including building barriers in vulnerable locations, which will deter individuals from risking the life-threatening dangers of the long trek north only to find that they cannot so easily enter the United States.
Too bad that Democrats and their open borders cohorts would rather see more migrant deaths, exploitation by human traffickers, and suffering women and children than work in good faith with the Trump administration to come up with a reasonable compromise solution.