Del Rio used to be a quiet town of 40,000 residents bordering Mexico in central Texas. Even as the Rio Grande Valley to its southeast has seen constant waves of Central American migrants since 2014, Del Rio was untouched by the border crisis. Now, this part of Texas is one of the fastest-growing smuggling routes and is also the primary route of African migrants coming from countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Our federal government is so concerned about the desires of bogus asylum-seekers, and now even masses of illegal aliens who aren’t even seeking asylum, that they are failing to take into account the needs of local American communities. It’s not just right-wing cowboys upset about it. Liberal Democrat border town officials have had enough as well and are demanding federal action.
On June 8, Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano laced into staffers of Sen. John Cornyn at special meeting of local officials for not touring the city and taking a more proactive role in protecting border towns from the effects of illegal immigration.
Mayor Lozano of Del Rio addresses represenitives of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Will Hurd at a joint session of the City Council, Val Verde County and School District.
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“I asked that you go see firsthand and walk through what the Border Patrol is walking through, walk through the system of release, walk through the coalition [of nonprofits and churches], walk through the judicial process, because the senators aren’t here,” said Lozano, chewing out Jonathan Huhn, the director of Sen. Cornyn’s San Antonio office. He accused Texas’ two senators of not showing up. “They need to see firsthand what’s going on. They need to understand the frustrations that the commissioners, or that the city council, the school board, the hospital officials are managing [and] having to deal with.”
Last week, I interviewed Uvalde, Texas, Mayor Don McLaughlin, who is part of a group of south central Texas counties that have expressed the same frustration. “We’re trying to be so politically correct in everything we do now that it’s going to get somebody hurt, said McLaughlin on my podcast Friday. “We need to throw the skunk on the table and put it right out in the open where people can see. If most people knew what was happening at the border, you might see a change, a big change, in America. But our elected officials tend to want to keep it quiet. … The elected officials we have right now aint cuttin’ it.”
At the Del Rio meeting, Mayor Lozano was incredulous. “We do not have the funds to fund this project that has manifested and been dumped here in the city of Del Rio Texas, Val Verde County, and the entire border. And we’re frustrated. We’re extremely frustrated. Our priorities on the city council are our streets, are our parks, are the economy, are the drive of the community and the places of worship and the places to have leisure activities. It is not the priority to solve immigration. … I will not stand for having to be dumped and find a solution, as mayor … for immigration. It is not our purview; it is not our jurisdiction. It is your job to ensure that you convey the frustration that I share with you all to ensure that our representatives at the federal level are hearing it. It’s falling on deaf ears, and we are tired of it. We are sick and tired of the deaf ears. … It’s happening in real time.”
The meeting was attended by city council members, county commissioners, the Val Verde County judge, and school board officials. The mayor also complained that they lack interpreters who speak Portuguese and French to communicate specifically with the African migrants.
This statement is very telling because Lozano, a Democrat who has been known to wear high heels, is not exactly a right-winger. Tellingly, when he ran for mayor of the border town just a year ago, he suggested that he wanted to educate northerners that the border is not a “war zone.” That tells you just how rapidly things have changed, with Del Rio becoming a transit zone for migrants from all over the world coming and draining city transportation services as well as the town’s only hospital.
Watching this mayor’s reaction to the border crisis brings to mind similar reactions from officials in Broward and Palm Beach Counties in Florida last month, when they heard a rumor that 1,000 illegal aliens would be dumped into their counties. These are very Democrat jurisdictions, but even they had zero appetite for the strains of illegal immigrants.
With another African caravan waiting just on the other side of Del Rio in Mexico, why would Trump not care more about the blowback from local citizens for letting them in as opposed to blowback from illegal alien advocacy groups for keeping them out?
I have already established that the president has the delegated and inherent authority to deny entry to anyone, and that overrides even real asylum requests. This was established in Sale v. Haitian Centers Council, Inc. (1993) and Sesay v. Immigration and Naturalization Service INS (2003) and reiterated last year in Trump v. Hawaii. Trump can simply announce to the world that the charade is over and that anyone showing up at our land border without proper documents is inadmissible and will be turned back.
This is especially potent now because, by my calculation, close to 80 percent of family units are coming over parts of our border that are separated from Mexico by the Rio Grande River. Just like Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton kept Haitian asylum seekers off our shores in the early 1990s, Trump can do the same with those attempting to cross the Rio Grande.
Border Patrol already has maritime assets, but the president could order a “hold the line” strategy on the river by marshalling every available boat from the military and placing the National Guard, the Coast Guard, and other active-duty troops on boats all along the river. Add to them all other federal agents who can been temporarily reassigned. They should refuse to allow anyone to cross and turn back anyone caught making the trip. It’s worth creating such a force for several weeks, because after just a few weeks of turnbacks, those thinking of making the trip will change their plans. This is exactly what happened with the Nicaraguans at the Texas border in 1989.
It is utterly stupefying why the president hasn’t been doing this for the past 8-12 months and certainly for the past several months of unprecedented crisis.
With both Republicans and independents listing immigration as the top issue of concern to America, and many Democrats who are actually affected directly by the crisis now crying foul, Trump needs to realize that he will get more blowback from people who actually vote by continuing catch-and-release than by announcing a complete shutoff of illegal immigration and asylum requests at our border for the foreseeable future.
As Mayor McLaughlin of Uvalde told me, “If most people knew what was happening at the border, you might see a change.” The president has the power to inform the American people both of the scope of the problem and his inherent authority to solve it. Current law and current executive authority over border entry are your friends, Mr. President.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.