Last week, many media figures and members of Congress warned the Trump administration that some of its ideas to deter illegal immigration would devastate commerce at the border. But it appears now that not stopping the border flow is already resulting in a partial shutdown of commerce at our points of entry. Agents are being diverted from points of entry to manage and process the asylum scam at our border, resulting in lane closures and partial shutdowns at certain points. We should use those resources to enforce an immigration and asylum shutdown, to push back the aliens or detain them in tent cities in order to stop the flow, and in the long run, to reopen commerce.
Last week, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) redirected roughly 545 of its “blue shirt” customs officers who man the points of entry to help the “green shirt” Border Patrol agents deal with the influx of Central American families and children entering between the points of entry. However, they are not being redirected to hold the line against the influx and deter the aliens from entering, but rather to further expedite catch-and-release.
Yesterday, the Washington Post wrote a long article chronicling the complaints of trade associations regarding the slowdown at points of entry: the “trucks backed up for hours and industry leaders warning of possible produce shortages and supply-chain interruptions.” They tacitly accuse the administration of implementing “a slow-motion facsimile of the border closure that President Trump threatened two weeks ago before backing down amid protests that shutting down the border would hurt the economy.”
Furthermore, as of the beginning of this month, CBP has shut down all commercial trucking lanes at the Nogales, Arizona, port on Sundays until further notice. It cites the redeployment of customs agents to deal with the border crisis as the cause.
Senator John Cornyn, who doesn’t seem to be too concerned about the actual invasion itself, also complained bitterly about Trump’s response to it. “The diversion of frontline CBP personnel from these ports, and the threat of a possible closure in the future, threatens to have a debilitating impact on the overall health of Texas’ economy,” wrote Texas’ senior senator in a letter to Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan. “Some Texas ports of entry have reported cross-border wait times in excess of seven hours, resulting in lost revenue and perished goods.
But nobody is really explaining what they want the administration to do instead. If they don’t want the president to choke off all immigration, then more agents are indeed needed to process the flow. Brian Hastings, chief of law enforcement operations for Border Patrol, told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday that “on average the Border Patrol is sending 63 people per day for additional medical treatment” from the illegal immigrant families. “This is the highest we have seen this number since we began tracking this,” he warned. “We’re currently on track to refer over 31,000 people for medical treatment this year as compared to only 12,000 during fiscal year 2018.”
The need for a redeployment of agents is obvious. According to Hastings, “Since December 22, 2018, US Border Patrol has spent over 100,000 hours — agent hours — at a hospital or medical facility.”
And the trajectory is not good: “Most concerning for us looking ahead is summer is approaching, this typically historically has meant increased flow from what we’ve seen in prior years and we’re concerned with the high temperatures paired with the dangerous and crowded conditions on the journey that puts this vulnerable population of family units and unaccompanied children at risk.”
Thus, at this point, the administration appears to have two options. It can either divert staff to help process and further incentivize this influx of illegal immigrants, or it could declare a “212(f)” shutoff of all immigration requests and use other federal law enforcement, as well as the military, to hold the line against the influx and deter them. Either way, commerce and trade will be hampered in the coming weeks. However, the former approach would ensure that it’s hampered forever, while accelerating the illegal immigration influx. The latter approach would shut down the next waves of illegal immigration in the pipeline, thereby allowing business as usual to resume within a few weeks. The administration will have to come to the conclusion sooner rather than later.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.