The Border Crisis: Why Is It Happening & Why Now? by Gary D. Halbert
FORECASTS & TRENDS E-LETTER
by Gary D. Halbert
August 12, 2014
IN THIS ISSUE:
1. Is US Immigration Policy to Blame for the Border Crisis?
2. More Aid to the Northern Triangle is Not the Answer
3. Border Security Doubled Last Decade, But Still Overwhelmed
4. Sheltering Immigrants Invites Gangs Into US Communities
5. Free Public Education for Illegal Immigrants
6. Why the Border Crisis is Happening Now: A National ID Card?
The recent surge of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children to the United States from Central America has sparked an intense and emotional debate over the crisis on the US-Mexico border. Unlike illegal immigrants from Mexico that can be deported within 48 hours, illegals from “non-contiguous” countries must be provided a deportment hearing in a court of law.
As a result, these illegals must be detained and housed (and educated if they are minors) until they have their day in court. Our government is quietly shipping these illegal immigrants to cities across America, often with no advance notice to the local communities. Why is this happening?
The presidents of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala and some Democrats in the US are demanding more foreign aid for these countries, arguing that the border situation is a “refugee crisis” that is rooted in US neglect of Central America, which has led to rampant gang violence and corruption. In other words, WE caused this problem. I don’t buy it!
Meanwhile, many Republicans say that the crisis is largely due to lenient US immigration policies that have led these illegal immigrants to believe that if they can get here, they can stay here. Many Democrats believe that these people are fleeing rampant violence in their home countries and that we should help them – along with a path to citizenship.
Yet there are many more questions than there are answers. Is our government directly responsible for this humanitarian crisis? How do these families in poverty in Central America scrape together thousands of dollars to pay the “coyotes” and send their young children into potentially grave danger? Why is this flood of immigrants and children happening now?
Finally, could the border crisis be a prelude to a National ID Card? Maybe it’s a preposterous question, but it needs to be asked. I will ask it today and explain why we need to be aware of this possibility. This should make for an interesting letter, whether you agree or not.
Is US Immigration Policy to Blame for the Border Crisis?
Answer: In part. On June 13, 2012 after the president’s “Dream Act” failed to pass in Congress, Obama issued an Executive Order – “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA). This order halted the deportation of some illegal immigrants who were brought to this country as children and have gone on to be productive law-abiding residents.
DACA is key among the policies that are creating a magnet for illegal immigrants. This unilateral policy that President Obama enacted allows many illegal immigrants who came to the US as children to avoid deportation. Among other criteria, they must have come to the US before they were 16 years old, must have been younger than 31 on June 15, 2012, have been in the country since at least June 15, 2007 and have no criminal history.
The Obama administration extended DACA in June, allowing more immigrants to apply for protection from deportation for another two years. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) recently said in a statement that the extension and changes would “proactively invite fraud and abuse.”
This unilateral action by the president in 2012 forced the emotional immigration policy debate into the forefront of the presidential campaign. Obama described his decision as the “right thing to do for the American people,” but many Democrats and immigration advocates also saw it as the right strategic move to boost his re-election chances.
In any event, the crisis at the border is a result of a convergence of factors in addition to lax US immigration law. With DACA in place, coyotes who smuggle migrants across the border orchestrated a campaign of rumors regarding amnesty that intersected with increasing violence and hopelessness in Central America – this according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Sensing a new opportunity as gang-fueled violence spread across Central America and the region’s governments foundered, the coyotes spread word that unaccompanied minors and mothers with children who came to the United States would be allowed to stay.
Many Republicans, and increasingly some Democrats, blame President Obama for encouraging this crisis with his 2012 Executive Order allowing some illegal immigrants who came to the country as children before 2007 to stay and work legally without the threat of deportation. This policy is not well understood in Central America and has been grossly mischaracterized by the coyotes and even the local media.
The coyotes’ promises resonated because corruption and the implosion of the rule of law in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – the so-called “Northern Triangle” – have pushed many people past a psychological tipping point. Slim hope for a better future has given way to a profound belief that there is no future possible if their children stay.
Gangs and transnational criminal organizations control ever-larger swaths of territory in the region. They blow up buildings with C4 explosives and battle one another with assault rifles while the national governments retreat. Measured by homicide rates, the Northern Triangle countries are more dangerous than war zones such as Afghanistan or Iraq, Gaza or Ukraine. Less than 5% of the homicides in the region are prosecuted. Gang violence has grown especially brutal toward girls who are routinely gang-raped and forced into membership by the age of 11.
More Aid to the Northern Triangle is Not the Answer
Calls for more aid and increased foreign investment are unrealistic in light of the dysfunction of the Northern Triangle governments. The rule of law there has been replaced by transactional politics: Whoever pays the most gets the results they want. In many cases, the police, judiciary, executive branch and legislature are at the service of the highest bidder. In this environment, more money and aid would inevitably mean more corruption.
Government leaders in the region squandered the international aid and goodwill that existed after their countries’ civil wars ended in the early 1990s. Leaders pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars that could have been used to tackle violence, create jobs, strengthen institutions and otherwise avert the current crisis. For example, former Salvadoran president Antonio Saca (2004-2009) was expelled from his own party after an internal investigation found that he had stolen more than $219 million while in office.
Since 2008, the United States, through the Central America Regional Security Initiative, has provided the region with $649 million in aid. Yet by every measure – homicides, kidnappings, prison overcrowding and dysfunction of the courts – the situation has gotten much worse. Until there is genuine political will to change what is so badly broken, more money is not wise policy.
Border Security has Doubled in Last Decade, But Still Overwhelmed
Despite the fact that our Border Patrol has doubled over the last decade to apprx. 22,000, it was in no way prepared to handle the flood of illegal migrants that have crossed our border this year. Border Patrol agents may arrest up to 90,000 children trying to illegally cross the Mexican border this year, more than three times the number of children apprehended in 2013, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS estimates that the number of children crossing our border could go to 142,000 in FY2015. If we count all illegal immigrants crossing our border, not just the children, the estimate of illegal immigrants jumps to over 200,000 for 2014 and to over 250,000 for 2015. In light of these staggering estimates, Texas Governor Rick Perry ordered 1,000 National Guard troops to the border on July 21. Good for him!
The spike in children trying to cross the border has forced DHS to divert resources away from other missions, including combating human and drug trafficking. The increase in apprehensions has also led the government to fly some migrants who are from countries other than Mexico to other parts of the border, including Arizona and California, for processing by Border Patrol agents in less-busy sectors.
Many unaccompanied children and families from countries other than Mexico have been released on their own recognizance in the US while they await deportation hearings in court. Unfortunately, many of these illegal migrants will never show up for their deportation hearings and will simply blend into the population.
Releasing these people and taking other actions such as reuniting children caught alone at the border with parents or other relatives already in the US serve as “incentives to additional individuals to follow the same path,” the DHS admitted.
Sheltering Immigrants Invites Gangs Into US Communities
The most dangerous element of this crisis which has the Border Patrol stretched so thin is the fact that criminals, drug dealers, smugglers and violent gang members are coming into the country along with the minors and women with children.
The violent group known as “MS-13” is one of the world’s most notorious international gangs and has strong ties to several Central American countries from which these illegals are coming. The government’s failure to adequately verify that criminals and violent gang members are not among those entering the US shows an alarming lack of concern for our homeland’s security.
This argument is common among communities refusing to host Central American children while they await deportation hearings. DHS has acknowledged that gangs in Mexico and Central America are using the border crisis to accelerate a strategy of seeking asylum in the United States and trying to expand their reach.
Perhaps this is why DHS has been moving these illegals to various communities without giving local leaders any advance notice. This secretive practice has led to serious protests in numerous cities, and in some cases, DHS has been forced to move the illegals elsewhere.
Free Public Education for Illegal Immigrants
In a letter dated May 8, 2014, the Departments of Justice and Education reminded public schools across America of their obligation to provide equal educational opportunities under the law. The letter specifically warned that public school administrators cannot discriminate on the basis of one’s “citizenship or immigration status or that of their parents or guardians.”
Then yesterday, the Department of Education released a “fact sheet” as a reminder about the availability of public school education for undocumented immigrant children – specifically the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who have recently entered the US illegally.
“We have begun to receive inquiries regarding educational services for a specific group of immigrant children who have been in the news – children from Central America who have recently crossed the U.S. – Mexico border,” the Department of Education explains.
“This new fact sheet provides information to help education leaders better understand the responsibilities of States and local educational agencies (LEAs) in connection with such students, and the existing resources available to help educate all immigrant students – including children who recently arrived in the United States,” it adds.
“All children in the United States are entitled to equal access to a public elementary and secondary education, regardless of their or their parents’ actual or perceived national origin, citizenship, or immigration status,” the fact sheet explains.
The fact sheet lays out the basics about the undocumented immigrant children’s rights and what communities can do to help with public school enrollment.
The question is: Who will pay for 90,000+ (non-English speaking) illegal immigrants to go to school? The answer is: Taxpayers, who have no say in the matter.
Why is the Border Crisis Happening Now: A National ID Card?
Have you wondered why the border crisis is happening now? Is it simply random? Doubtful. To quote Franklin Roosevelt’s law of politics: “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”
At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I’ll tell you what is being talked about in some circles. The theory is that the Department of Homeland Security (and secretly President Obama) see the border crisis as an opportunity to institute a National ID Card for everyone. For as long as I have followed politics (35+ years), liberals have salivated over the possibility of implementing a National ID Card.
With today’s technology the government could store a lot of data on each of us with a chip imbedded in a card no bigger than your driver’s license. The problem is, Americans have been deeply opposed to a National ID Card and still are.
Yet with the border crisis and hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants getting into the country, Americans are deeply concerned. As a result, the DHS may see this as yet another opportunity to actively pursue a National ID Card. You might think this sounds absurd, but it has already struck close to home for me.
We live on the outskirts of Austin, one of the most liberal cities in Texas (if not America). Austin is also a so-called “sanctuary city.” Basically, sanctuary cities adopt rules that prohibit law enforcement from inquiring about the legal residency status of people it questions or arrests. Sanctuary cities, in essence, protect people who are in this country illegally.
The Austin City Council recently decided that our city would welcome illegal immigrants detained at the Texas border. While Austin is a very progressive city, this decision outraged many of the people who live here, and a heated debate has erupted. Even some of the liberals here are opposed to having the government relocate illegal immigrants to our town. Imagine that!
So at last week’s City Council meeting, the members came up with a new idea that they think might quell some of the concerns over illegal immigrants being relocated here. And that idea: A “Municipal ID Card” for illegal immigrants who already live here or might be relocated here in the future.
The libs in Austin argue that it is unfair for illegals who live here not to have formal, state-recognized ID cards, which would make it easier for them to get jobs, have bank accounts, get driver’s licenses and credit cards and have access to healthcare. Are we generous or what!
I fully expect the Austin City Council to approve such a move to institute a Municipal ID Card very soon. But here’s the problem, whether it be in Austin or the nation at large:
Due to political correctness, we can’t discriminate against any race or
group, so any Municipal or National ID Card must apply to EVERYONE.
Is this what the DHS is thinking? Could be. You may think I’m exaggerating. You may think I’m bordering on conspiracy theory. But this is indeed a possibility – sometime after the November mid-term elections, of course. Should it prove to be true, remember that you read it here first. I’ll keep you posted.
Gary D. Halbert