Note from the author: As this article was about to be posted, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued new rules that provide solutions to the immigration dilemma described herein. At first, I thought the article might be moot, but decided to publish it just the same to give readers the history behind the bold move by the AG.
It seems simple enough: a non-American citizen walks across the southern border, only to be turned around by the border agents. If only!
President Donald Trump has been pulling the platinum hair out of his head, frustrated over the fact that present law actually prohibits our agents from keeping illegal trespassers from entering our homeland if the would-be immigrants simply utter these words: "I am seeking refugee status." Yet another law bars agents from prohibiting entry of unaccompanied minors from all Latin American nations, sans Mexico.
Few realize how this came to pass. It started with the good intentions of the George W. Bush presidency. U.S. leaders wanted to provide protection for underage children smuggled through the border by dangerously exploitive pimps and coyotes for forced labor, both manual and sexual. (See: Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act of 2008.)
It was one thing to tell the trafficker to turn around, but quite another to force the exploited child to return with her captors. So, we devised a plan to allow the child to remain on U.S. soil until a hearing could determine if the youngster needed refugee status. Sounds like the right thing to do. But the coyotes — who for the right sum will smuggle anyone looking to cross the border — soon realized they could exploit the intent of the law by having anyone say the magic words to stay in the U.S. until they got their hearing. Needless to say, by 2014, more than half of the immigrants never showed up for the hearings and wound up becoming part of the illegal immigration fabric of the nation. (According to the Attorney General, while there were only 5,000 asylum seekers in 2007, that figure exploded to 94,000 seven years later.)
Inexplicably, the law was written in such a bizarre way as to allow agents to turn away border crossers from Mexico or Canada, but not those from non-contiguous nations.
President Obama contributed to the chaos in 2012 when he announced a form of amnesty for young immigrants, sending the message to millions across the Western Hemisphere that our nation was adopting a more passive stance on illegal immigrants. (The narrative that Obama was the “Deporter in Chief” was nonsense. Obama’s team wanted to appear tough on illegal immigration even as they were opening the floodgates. By redefining stops at the border as being deportations, he dramatically and artificially inflated the numbers.)
When it comes to illegal immigration, messages matter. Sending the message that amnesty is at hand motivates those who were on the fence (no pun intended) about crossing the border, to make the definitive decision to go for it. Thus, we had in 2014 alone almost 70,000 unaccompanied minors flooding over the border.
At first, Obama wisely called for an immediate change to the Bush-era law to allow agents to turn away illegal enterers, whether they were from Mexico or any other nation. Americans with a fear of having our border overrun breathed a sigh of relief that this problem would soon be rectified. Alas, it was too good to be true. Sure enough, a quick backlash from the ACLU and the illegal immigration lobby emerged and Obama folded like a cheap tent. The horrifically worded law, with its loopholes you can drive a truck through, was allowed to stay in place, and continues to foster the crisis that President Trump now must deal with.
Trump is likewise calling for the law to be changed. And yet, he can’t. He blames Senate Democrats, and rightly so. Our archaic filibuster rules (something Trump is also correct in seeking to change) require 60 votes to change the law, and getting even a few Democratic votes just isn’t going to happen.
The unwillingness of the Democrats (and some liberal Republicans) to change the wording of the sex-trade law led Obama to serve up a $4 billion allocation to care for the unaccompanied minors who overwhelmed the system during that last wave. Meanwhile, Democrats claim we don’t have the money needed to build a wall that would help border agents reduce the illegal entries.
The answer to this problem is so simple: just tighten up the language of the trafficking bill to clarify that the ability to stay here and demand a hearing only applies to minors caught up in the forced labor trade, or those facing class-wide persecution. The law was never meant to be a rouse for millions of illegal aliens to gain entry to our nation by misleadingly claiming that they are refugees. If violence and poverty in other countries are now going to be a predicate to get refugee status, then get ready to start accepting not thousands, but tens of millions of a new wave of illegal immigrants. Moreover, congress should immediately change the law to permit border agents to turn around southern border crossers from all foreign nations, not just Mexico.
How despicable that our own leaders (primarily in the Democratic Party) are willing to sell out our nation for the future votes they hope to garner when these so called “refugees” get the citizenship those feckless pols will eventually endow upon them.
Steve Levy, former New York assemblyman, Suffolk County executive, and candidate for governor, is now a distinguished political pundit. Levy's commentary has been published in such media outlets as Washington Times, Washington Examiner, New York Post, Albany Times, Long Island Business News, and City & State Magazine. He hosted “The Steve Levy Radio Show" on Long Island News Radio, and is a frequent guest on high profile television and radio outlets. Few on the political scene possess Levy’s diverse background. He’s been both a legislator and executive, and served on both the state and local levels — as both a Democrat and Republican. Levy published Bias in the Media, an analysis of his own experience, after switching parties, with the media's leftward slant. Levy is currently Executive Director of the Center for Cost Effective Government, a fiscally conservative think tank. He is also President of Common Sense Strategies, a political consulting firm. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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