As the crisis on the southern border steadily worsens, the Biden administration continues to blame the previous administration for the surge in immigrants trying to cross into the USA including thousands of unaccompanied children. In fact, it has refused to refer to it as a crisis which Mr. Biden created by reversing Trump administration restrictions on immigration and asylum policies, resulting in that surge which responsible officials knew, or should have known, was coming.
While the attention of Americans is focused mostly on the plight of the unaccompanied children entrusted to human smugglers by desperate parents fleeing poverty, crime and gangs, there has been an accompanying surge in adult illegal border crossers, many of them repeat offenders who had been deported under the Title 41 immigrant expulsion policy, seeking work to feed their families. And with the time and resources of the Border Patrol being diverted to caring for, and in some cases rescuing, children, more criminal activity along the border, including drug trafficking, is increasing. There is one word that best describes conditions at the border: chaotic.
Already more immigrants have died in the first three months of 2021 than in all of 2019, the last full year before the Covid-19 restrictions were put in place. Nineteen of them were in two SUVs loaded with immigrants involved in horrific collisions. One of them, designed to seat eight safely, contained 25 human beings stacked like cordwood. In another incident, several immigrants were thrown from a moving vehicle trying to evade authorities. Others, abandoned by smugglers, drowned in the Rio Grande trying to cross at night.
These migrants are mostly good, decent people fleeing what they say are intolerable conditions in their home countries. They come mostly from Central America, particularly Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, countries which are crime- and gang-infested, with governments too inept or weak to control the crime and the gangs or to facilitate an economy that can provide enough work for its people to escape grinding poverty. In desperation, they pay human smugglers what little they have or can earn to help them make the perilous trip north across the length of Mexico to reach our border. Some come looking for work to feed their families. Others seek asylum, usually not in the countries they pass through because they perceive that conditions there aren’t much better than those they just left, but in the USA, a country with a new, immigrant-welcoming president who they hear has reversed Trump’s hateful immigration and asylum restrictions.
Some send their children on alone because they also hear that Biden won’t send them back if they can only make it across the border. They entrust them to human smugglers who care only for profit and treat immigrants as human cargo. Some of the children will be abused along the way. One border “expert” estimates that 25% are. President Biden was absolutely right when he said that we can’t and won’t just send them back to starve and face more danger. Of course we can’t but perhaps he should have thought that through before his actions opened the floodgates.
Over 18,000 unaccompanied children are, as of this writing, in U.S. detention facilities and the number is growing. Most are being detained in crowded, prison-like facilities not meant to house children. Some have tested positive for COVID-19 but most haven’t been tested at all. The situation is so bad in Texas, that children are being flown to other locations including San Diego, where the Convention Center has been emptied of its homeless population and re-purposed to house unaccompanied girls, aged 13-17. This might just encourage more desperate parents to send their unaccompanied daughters to the California border where they will be put up and cared for until they can be re-united with parents or relatives or sponsors can be located.
These migrants deserve to be treated with compassion and dignity but here’s the thing. This surge is probably just the tip of the iceberg. There are millions more wanting and waiting to come and not just from Central America and Mexico but from all over the world. For all our problems, America is their destination of choice. But it should be obvious even to the most compassionate among us, including the religious charities that feed and welcome them, that we can never accommodate everyone who wants to come. No nation could. So what’s the plan, Mr. President? Handing the problem off to Vice-president Kamala Harris seems to be the only strategy in place at the moment. What’s her plan, then? As of this writing, neither of you has been to the border to see up close what even the liberal media is calling a worsening crisis and warns of disturbing TV images of children lying on concrete or dirt floors or being dropped over the wall by smugglers.
So here’s a radical thought. They need to be discouraged from making that perilous trip north. If we can’t, or won’t, get control of our own southern border, perhaps we should make an offer to Mexico and Guatemala to send troops to help them control theirs, if they can’t or won’t do it themselves. At 541 miles, it’s a lot less to cover than ours at 1954 miles. It wouldn’t be the first time we sent Marines to Central America to save lives.
Here’s the other thing. With all the focus on domestic issues like the immigration crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, proposed election reform legislation and soon-to-be-announced multi-trillion dollar plans for infrastructure and green energy, is anyone paying close attention to the rest of the world where China is eating our lunch economically and perhaps militarily? Secretary of State Antony Blinken said just recently that “We’re not trying to contain China.” Perhaps that’s because we no longer can. But that’s a topic for another day because we’re out of space here. Remember, Mr. President, you asked for this job, and the multiple challenges and long days that come with it.