What I am about to propose to cope with the current pressure on the southern border would be effective, relatively inexpensive, and non-controversial — and will never happen.
It would make a substantial impact on the OTMs (other than Mexicans) coming through Mexico to our borders, but it will not be used because it fails the Big Symbol test used by the White House.
We know from the media, and particularly from the reporting of my CIS colleagues, that many in Mexico and Central America help migrants on their way north. In the case of the Central Americans, Mexican cops hail down trucks and tell them to carry some OTMs north, some Mexican states rent buses to move the migrants on to the next state, and some Mexican nationals drive those buses. Others help the caravan people in other ways.
And even more flagrantly, according to my colleague Todd Bensman, "special interest aliens" (SIAs) from, for example, the Middle East, routinely travel through nations like Panama and Costa Rica on their way, they hope, to an illegal entrance through our southern border. Many of these are apprehended or otherwise identified by the national governments, stashed in a detention center for a couple of days, and then bused on to the next border, where the process is often repeated by the next nation.
Here are my suggestions for how these problems can be addressed in Mexico and Central America (a smaller scale matter).
Proposal for Mexico
Many people in Mexico, particularly in the middle class, want to come to the United States for legitimate purposes, such as for shopping, as tourists, or as students. To do so, they need visas, and they must be able to clear customs in our airports or at the border.
Step One. The Department of Homeland Security will simply announce that anyone helping the caravan people on their way north will be placed on a "Do Not Travel" list; if they seek a visa they will be subject to possible rejection of the benefit sought, and face very careful interviews.
Step Two. DHS will hire several undercover agents who speak Central American Spanish and indigenous languages to infiltrate the northward-bound caravans; they will, as the caravans move toward our border, quietly collect the names of those helping the migrants on their way through Mexico; it would be particularly useful to get the names of the local mayors and police chiefs who help the passage.
Step Three. DHS publicists will, using the intelligence captured in the prior step, create a map of the caravans' trips through Mexico, much like the ones my CIS colleagues created recently. It will show, at every stop along the way, the names of those who helped the migrants and who have been added to the "Do Not Travel" list.
The map and the related text will be distributed — in Spanish — to all media in Mexico.
Steps Four and Beyond. As specific mayors, police chiefs, and others seek to enter the United States despite their presence on the list, specific press releases will be issued on their visa rejections.
The whole process is designed to discourage local officials from helping the caravans.
Proposal for Central America
Let's take a leaf from the European precedent regarding migrants from Syria and strike formal deals with the Central American nations, as Europe has with Turkey. In this case, we would simply work out financial arrangements with the nations of Panama, Costa Rica, and perhaps others to cause those SIAs who seek to enter the United States illegally to be identified and shipped home at U.S. expense.
These aliens (probably including a terrorist or three) are not of sympathetic interest to the Central American nations, as some of the Central Americans are to Mexico. The Central American nations simply want to get rid of them, so why not pay them to get rid of them in a way that is useful to us?
The individuals, by and large, are guilty of illegal entry into the Central American country in which they are identified, and the rough and ready process of deportation from, say, Panama, probably has few appeals processes. The United States, acting as an agent of the local government, will handle and finance the repatriation of the SIAs. Since there are no direct flights from Central America to either Africa or the Middle East, U.S. agents will need to accompany the departing SIAs to and through airports in Brazil, Chile, or Argentina, for example.
U.S. compensation to these nations should be generous enough to encourage the local authorities to look out for this group of aliens; while a pure bonus system might not be appropriate, something like it should be considered.
The ultimate objective of this policy is widespread publicity in Cairo, Karachi, and elsewhere, that the United States is taking active and effective methods to prevent illegal immigration from anywhere through the Central American nations.