Spinning the Gordian Knot

By Dan Cadman on June 10, 2014

Major media outlets have begun to pay attention to the fact that tens of thousands of women and children have illegally crossed our southern border in recent weeks — many immediately turning themselves in to the closest Border Patrol agents, knowing that under this administration's policies, they will be held a short time and then released to other illegal family members already in the country.

A large percentage of these individuals emanate from three Central American nations: El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. So many have arrived that they have overwhelmed the government's ability to deal with them. At first, the solution was to transport them to the Phoenix, Ariz., bus station to travel onward on their own, with a promise to show up someplace else and report in to the interior immigration authorities of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). This showed tremendous chutzpah given the federal government's prior suit against Arizona to prevent it from taking steps to enforce federal immigration laws.

After getting caught at that, I am told reliably that the government for a while began stockpiling these individuals at Lackland Air Force Base. Now they are staging them in large warehouse-type buildings inside federal detention facilities, and the president has been obliged to declare a "humanitarian crisis" so that FEMA might legally divert funds otherwise available for hurricane, tornado, and other disaster relief efforts in order to fund this wave of illegal entrants.

What a curious situation for an administration that has striven so hard to maintain its stance that "border security is better than ever before; we have it under control", because the surge clearly shows that, despite their best efforts, it is not our border agents who hold the decisive hand in this game of cards. It is the motivations of the aliens themselves.

Despite the irony of this obvious discrepancy between the administration's spin story and the on-the-ground reality, many (perhaps most) of the media have focused on "poverty and crime" as the driving forces for this surge. Although convenient, that's a false narrative. Certainly there are poverty and crime in the countries of origin — but no more than has been the case for several years. No, that explanation falls sadly short of the truth.

Let us be frank: The genesis of this humanitarian crisis is the federal government itself; specifically, the feckless, reckless, and incompetent policies that the administration has pursued in the arena of immigration matters; policies contrary to the Constitution and law that have eviscerated immigration law enforcement and turned the officers responsible for that enforcement into alien smuggling facilitators. (For examples, see here, here, and here.)

The president's endless and excessive manipulation of his executive authority, using as foils his successive Homeland Security Secretaries and their subordinates, has acted as — choose your metaphor here — a beacon, a magnet, honey to a bee — and drawn these women and children northward, on perilous journeys where they face brutality and violence, and no small amount of prejudice, misuse, and corruption from the Mexican officials they will encounter en route.

All of this has been eminently predictable, and was in fact predicted. Look at this:

And that leads me to my second major concern: the rule of unintended consequences. It is entirely possible that the administration, through its announcement, may also have unwittingly opened up the door for a thriving business in the smuggling of minors across our borders, many of them unaccompanied by relatives and thus subject to the worst sorts of abuse from unscrupulous coyotes.

Why would this happen? Because hope and hard lives in third-world countries engender risk-taking of a kind unknown to most Americans. Parents already here will send for their children, hoping to get them here safely and in time to queue up, with their phony documents in hand. Likewise, desperate parents in rural Mexico, the backwaters of El Salvador, or elsewhere, may send their children forward to join distant relatives or acquaintances, hoping for an eventual foothold themselves, or if not, at least for their children.

The question, then, is what to do in the face of this self-made crisis? The answer is in the law. These individuals are subject to expedited removal. Remove them, expeditiously, back to their home countries. Do it carefully, do it humanely, and with genuine attention to their health and safety, but do it.

We must not, we should not let the countries of origin skate on their own responsibilities. We must not let Mexico (which howls loudly about American immigration policies when their own citizens are concerned) act as if it is not complicit in permitting transit through its land. And, most importantly, our government must cease to act as a surrogate smuggler because it gives false hope and puts thousands of minors at serious risk of death and injury in their northward journey.

How ironic that, during the week of May 18, the House of Representatives considered five different bills to end the scourge of human trafficking at a time when the executive branch is complicit in this crime on a massive scale.