While media grannies are getting their knickers in a twist over the antics of a Missouri rodeo clown, a cascading, Mariel Boatlift-style immigration emergency may be brewing on the Mexican border. Fox reports:
A sudden influx of illegal immigrants from Mexico requesting asylum is overwhelming immigration agents in San Diego, forcing agencies to rent hotel rooms for some undocumented families and release others to cities around the U.S.
Documents obtained exclusively by Fox News show Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been paying for hotel rooms for dozens of recently arrived families to relieve overcrowding inside the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa, Calif., processing centers. Some ICE employees are working overtime and others have been asked to volunteer to work weekend shifts. "Duties include intake, placements, transports and release of family groups and unaccompanied minors," according to a memo obtained by Fox News.
This is the nightmare scenario of border control — thousands of Mexicans just showing up at our border crossings and demanding asylum based on fear of cartel violence (generalized violence is not grounds of asylum). Very few Mexican applicants end up receiving asylum, but that's not the point — once they're released into the country, they can just disappear (especially under this administration). That's why immigration, faced with the onslaught, is housing some in local hotels (including this Quality Suites), to make sure they don't run off. "Others," reported Fox:
were released to addresses in Texas, Florida and even Brooklyn, N.Y. ICE sources say the addresses are almost always bogus. When they don't show up for court, they are removed by an immigration judge in absentia.
"Removed in absentia" means they're ordered deported, but that order just goes on the pile of hundreds of thousands of others that have been issued but ignored — unless you're a rapist or drug dealer, no one's looking for you.
And this isn't some random upsurge — the applicants have been coached on what to say:
"This clearly has to have been orchestrated by somebody," said former U.S. Attorney for Southern California Peter Nunez [and chairman of the board of CIS]. "It's beyond belief that dozens or hundreds or thousands of people would simultaneously decide that they should go to the U.S. and make this claim."
The coordinated nature of these asylum claims is all the more obvious since Baja, where these people are crossing from, has not seen the same level of cartel violence as other parts of the border.
Last month, a group of young illegal aliens conducted a publicity stunt by returning to Mexico then turning around and demanding to be readmitted to pursue just such asylum claims. After detaining them for a couple of weeks, the administration let them go last week. Given that experience, it's entirely possible that the surge in phony asylum claims we're seeing was actually orchestrated not by smuggling rings but by the pro-immigration, anti-border lobbyists in this country, perhaps by the DREAM activists themselves.
Congress gave the immigration authorities a tool to prevent this kind of thing. "Expedited removal" was authorized in the 1996 immigration law and allows border agents to make a determination whether an asylum applicant has a "credible fear" of persecution — a lower bar than you need to prove to actually receive asylum but enough to get you into the pipeline and, usually, released into the general population while you wait for your hearing. The problem is that DHS is setting the credible fear bar too low, letting in people who should simply be turned away. This is all the more true given that asylum is only available to people who can't find a place within their own country where they can escape persecution; much of Mexico has not experienced cartel violence, so asylum applications should be dismissed out of hand. If a border journalist, say, flees a border bridge one step ahead of cartel assassins, we're obviously not going to send him back the way he came. But granting him asylum isn't the answer; rather, we need to put him on a plane headed for Mexico City or a ship bound for Yucatan — places in his own country.
The reason this could spiral out of control is that as word spreads that you can just walk up to a port of entry in California and be admitted after uttering the right key words, you could see thousands, then tens of thousands trying their luck. This isn't even in the administration's interests, because a Mariel-style debacle would scare off timorous Republican congressmen who desperately want to sell out their consituents by voting for amnesty and increased immigration, but need political cover. So my prediction is the administration will start cracking down, at least until an amnesty passes.
UPDATE: A retired border agent e-mailed a colleague of mine that something similar is happening with people from India making bogus asylum claims at border Ports of Entry in Arizona:
Since October 2012 about 2,000 Indian nationals have asked for political asylum at both Nogales POEs. (Before they open the Mariposa POE at 6 in the morning, the Indians are already waiting at the gate.) They are coming every day, no end in sight. . . . These figures are from inside the port, CBP refuses to give official statistics. . . . We cannot refuse them, they are processed (taking away lots of POE officers from more important work) and sent on to central processing stations where they are given a hearing date and released . . . never to be seen again.