An Immigration Crisis Beyond Imagining

Article author: 
Todd Bensman, Center for Immigration Studies
Article publisher: 
Hillsdale College Imprimis
Article date: 
25 June 2024
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

In 1960, the Eisenhower administration began counting the number of foreign nationals “apprehended” or “encountered” by what was then called the U.S. Border Control when crossing into the U.S. over its southern border with Mexico. These figures have been published and closely monitored through the years, and there has never been anything like the numbers we are seeing now. A human tsunami of previously unfathomable size—Border Patrol has had to handle more than 7.6 million border crossers in 36 months—has smashed every record, with each year’s numbers exceeding the previous year’s record in stair-stepping fashion.

... But with the percentage of those allowed to stay now approaching 100 percent, if current trends hold, the total allowed to remain in the U.S. under the Biden administration will reach ten million by next January...

Entering 2024, apprehensions were up to 12,000 to 15,000 per day...

The reality is even worse, because these numbers do not include the people who entered the U.S. illegally without being apprehended—sometimes referred to as “gotaways”—a number the Border Patrol estimates but does not make public. That estimate over the past three years is two million, bringing the three-year total of illegal immigrants to ten million—a number equivalent to the population of Greater London or Greater Chicago...

More than 330 as of November 2023 are on the FBI’s terrorist watch list...

... Mexico’s crime syndicates and their paramilitary forces have never earned so much money from cross-border smuggling, and it is reported that their proceeds from human smuggling are surpassing those from drug smuggling for the first time...

... the crisis can easily be traced to an identifiable moment in time—Inauguration Day 2021.

Prior to that day, the Trump administration had brought the southern border largely under control using four key policies.

  1. Diplomatic Big Sticks: The U.S. gained Mexico’s cooperation by threatening ruinous trade tariffs of up to 28 percent on Mexican goods...
  2. Remain in Mexico: Border Patrol was required to return apprehended immigrants [illegal aliens] immediately to Mexico, where they had to wait out the long duration of asylum processing...
  3. Safe Third Country: Immigrants who had passed through designated “safe third countries” (including Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico) on their way to the U.S. without applying for asylum in one of those countries were automatically deported with no chance to claim asylum in the U.S.
  4. Title 42: This pandemic-control health order required rapid deportations to Mexico, without the option to claim asylum, of all immigrants [illegal aliens] caught illegally crossing the U.S. border.

... It is too early to gauge the full impact of the ongoing settlement of millions of illegal foreign nationals in the U.S. We know that the initial financial cost is high—$400 billion, by one estimate, to feed, house, clothe, and resettle the illegals who have been allowed to stay...

There are two essential steps we must take to begin to solve the border crisis:

  1. Enforce current immigration law, specifically the requirements under the Immigration and Nationality Act to detain and deport illegal entrants.
  2. Restore the threat of trade tariffs on Mexican goods to ensure Mexico’s cooperation with reinstituting the Remain in Mexico policy, forcing asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their asylum claims are processed.

Three additional steps will help to solve the problem:

  1. Withdraw from the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees treaty, which requires the U.S. to meet outdated standards for handling asylum claimants; then institute an asylum law that ends the current catch-and-release system and requires that an asylum claim first be made in a suitable departure or transit country, such as Mexico.
  2. Put diplomatic and financial pressure on Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico to implement their own policies of detention and deportation of foreign nationals who are in those countries illegally.
  3. Close loopholes in U.S. immigration law such as the Flores Settlement Agreement—which circumvents Immigration and Nationality Act requirements for detention and deportation during asylum claims and forces the release of asylum-seeking families within 21 days—and the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which requires the quick release of immigrant minors if they are from anywhere but Mexico...


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