Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) has issued another of its periodic reports on immigration, one that Americans should find disturbing. According to TRAC, immigration judges are ruling in 57 percent of the cases that come before them that the alien should be permitted to stay in the United States.
Think about that. It isn't that our immigration enforcement officers are bumbling incompetents who don't know an illegal alien from their elbow. In fact, the vast majority of apprehensions made every year are by Border Patrol agents in the regions directly proximate to our southern border, where there's little doubt as to who they've taken into custody.
What this means, then, is that nearly six out of every 10 aliens caught entering illegally from Mexico are being given a pass by the immigration courts. It pretty much puts the lie to claims that "recent border crossers" are a top enforcement priority for the Department of Homeland Security even under this administration's goofy rules for picking and choosing who gets arrested and who doesn't.
How could this happen? In a word: asylum. People tend to think of the rules for who gets asylum as being pretty cut and dry, but that's not so. There is a squishy, tractor-trailer-wide loophole for people who are members of an ostensibly persecuted "particular social group" that has become a kind of one-size-fits-all tool for liberal-leaning immigration judges.
So even though generalized violence of the type faced by many Central Americans in their crime-ridden cities technically isn't a basis for claiming asylum, if the individuals at their court hearings can wedge themselves into a particular social class (often "I was being targeted by criminal gangs", which is a hard one to prove, but also hard to disprove) then it all turns on the judge's assessment of the individual's credibility — a subjective gauge if ever there was one. And there are migrant advocacy groups by the dozen who make it their specialty to assist aliens in preparing for their hearings to be sure that they avoid foolish mistakes in their testimony that would readily throw them into the deport basket as economic migrants. You can also bet your bottom dollar that almost none of these asylum grants have been opposed by the government, and that appeals of the grants are few and far between.
Of course, the administration's fallback "my hands are clean" position on this outcome would be that it was a judge that made the decision, not some flack. But who is choosing the judges? The administration. I have suggested before that a quiet litmus test has been applied over the course of the last seven-plus years to certain key appointments within the immigration-administering organs of government, including particularly immigration judges and asylum officers, but also trial attorneys. The delicious irony here is that because of the massive backlogs confronting the immigration courts as the overall enforcement system breaks down, Congress has appropriated money for additional judges and trial attorneys — giving this White House a double win in its game of transforming American society in no small measure through manipulating immigration policy.
There is nothing quite so Machiavellian or effective as "transformative" progressives who have learned to penetrate the bureaucracy because it's there that the best-laid plans are made or broken. And it will take many years for the next president to "unmake" that bureaucracy, if he is so inclined, because the kinds of positions we are talking about are permanent — the individuals encumbering them will remain in them until they retire, unless they move onto something else, or are removed for cause.