Fox News reports that 425 Africans who penetrated Mexico's southern border illegally and entered the state of Chiapas were initially taken into custody by the National Migration Institute (INM, by its Spanish acronym) after they surrendered themselves.
According to the report, they were unwilling to state their respective nationalities to the Mexican authorities, notwithstanding which they were then released and given transit visas to cross Mexico in order to reach the United States' southern border, there presumably to either cross illegally or present themselves to a port of entry to seek asylum.
The report further tells us that virtually all of the Africans had initially begun their journey through the Americas by arriving in either Ecuador or Brazil and then moving northward through various countries until crossing into Chiapas from Guatemala.
The report is doubly disturbing because it verifies a trend reported previously by my colleague Kausha Luna that Africans are beginning to routinely use smuggling transit routes through selected South and Central American countries as a part of their journey to the United States. It has become such a lure that even Haitians are now attempting to pretend to be Africans in order to "ride the wave" onward and into the United States.
The implication one gets from the willingness of all of these countries to tolerate the interlopers — as long as they continue trekking northward — is that the entire world expects the United States to bear the burden of dealing with nearly all international refugees in the Americas — if indeed these people truly are refugees.
But that's not so. Ecuador, Brazil, and Mexico are all signatories to the United Nations International Convention on the Treatment of Refugees, and so are virtually all of the other South and Central American nations that sit between them.
What this means in functional terms is that each and every one of these states has an obligation to entertain any claim to asylum or refugee status that these individuals could make.
It also means that the individuals themselves have an obligation to seek refuge at the first possible place of save haven. It is a settled principle of international law that intended refugees do not have the right to pick and choose their place of asylum.
The proper answer by U.S. authorities to any requests for asylum from these individuals should be simple: "No."
Doing anything else, most especially permitting their entry or parole into the United States:
- Violates the spirit and intent of both international and domestic rules regarding the obligation to seek "first safe refuge" for asylum seekers;
- Encourages other signatories to the United Nations refugee convention to shirk their international obligations by shunting the burden onto us;
- Facilitates the unconscionable but highly profitable alien smuggling trade;
- Makes it impossible to discern legitimate refugees from economic migrants in the resultant flood of opportunists; and
- Opens the door to a path that might very well be used by members of al Shabaab, Boko Haram, or other international terrorist groups operating in Africa.
We already have so many problems on our southern land border, many of them self-engendered or at least exacerbated and perpetuated by the stupid policies of the current administration, including Central Americans by the tens of thousands (see here and here) and Cubans by the thousands ( see here, here, and here) to name just two. Why unnecessarily add to the burden when swift and decisive action can end this dangerous charade?
Just. Say. No.