The goal is to stop illegal immigration and the cartels, not to build partial fencing as an end in itself. Like many solutions to life’s problems, fencing is extremely helpful as part of a broader solution, but almost meaningless if we ignore the cause of this crisis and downright moot if we make that cause worse. This is the key to understanding the border emergency declaration mixed with signing this awful omnibus-amnesty bill.
The president is right. We have a national emergency. The amnesty provision in the bill he is signing is the national emergency. In fact, it is an international emergency that will spawn the worst global human trafficking crisis ever seen and make the American people pay for it in both money and security. It openly invites any illegal alien to contract with cartels to smuggle in more illegal teenagers and children and then obtain amnesty merely by association with the teenager or child. The power of avoiding deportation, as I mentioned yesterday, will be such an incentive that it will create an entire market for the cartel smuggling, even worse than the current crisis.
Today, Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border is not designed to actually deal with the real emergency at the border and finally stop illegal immigration and combat the cartels. It is designed to distract his base from the betrayal of signing this amnesty bill and focus on his partial, watered-down strategic fencing, when this issue has long become much more severe than a lack of fencing in some areas.
Signing this bill pours gasoline on the emergency, and the emergency declaration is a non-sequitur to that very problem he is asserting.
Trump is right that there is an emergency at our border unlike any other period of illegal immigration in this country. It is an emergency that largely began during his own presidency, long after he made a border wall the focal point of his enforcement agenda. The challenge at the border thanks to the courts has changed. The emergency is not the lack of fencing. The emergency is our own policies, policies that this administration has reluctantly continued and has no road map to ending. I’ve written six reasons why this border invasion is quantitatively and qualitatively worse than before, but here is a quick summary:
This is a very simple case for Trump to make to the American people, because the data, evidence, and anecdotes all back this up. The problem is that the policy solutions that should be dictated by his declaration should address the cause of this crisis, not just building a small area of fencing with a few billion dollars. And Trump’s signing of a bill that openly invites all illegal aliens in this country to sponsor more children to come here illegally is the biggest emergency of all.
The reason why a border wall works in Israel is because infiltrators don’t want to meet an Israeli soldier. They will be prosecuted, at bare minimum. Thus, a border wall is enough of a deterrent because of the likelihood that the crosser will get caught in the process of traversing the barrier. This is the same reason why the fences in Yuma worked back when we had the Mexican migrants who were either turned back or prosecuted. The illegal aliens did not want to get confronted by agents; they wanted to sneak into the country. It’s impossible to sneak in when climbing a tall fence; thus, the fencing worked.
That is no longer the case, since we’ve invited in everyone in the world to come as teenagers or with teenagers and young kids. They want nothing more than to surrender to agents from on top of the fence. They are coming from all over the world. There are now caravans from Venezuela waiting to come. They will just come to points of entry or climb the fence, as they are doing every day, including over the 18-foot bollards in Yuma that once worked to deter the traditional illegal immigrants from Mexico. As Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot, said on my podcast earlier this month, “You have to have all elements of enforcement to have an effect.” He lamented how his deputies are taking kids to the hospital after they are dropped over the 18-foot fence and this administration refuses to prosecute the parents because of political concerns “like we would prosecute any American parent for engaging in such criminal behavior.”
Who will pay for the effects of this bill Trump is supporting? Former ICE Director Thomas Homan warned in an interview with CR, “This section of law will cause a surge of UACs who will be smuggled by criminal organizations that have been bankrolled by this legislation. More children will be abused and more M-S 13 members will enter and their smugglers in the U.S. [will be] protected.” The MS-13 problem is exclusively because of the UAC loophole that is being expanded, not fixed, in this bill.
Which brings us back to Trump’s emergency declaration.
When a sick patient comes into a hospital, the urgent job of emergency room personnel is to triage, try to stop the bleeding, then treat the illness or wound. The final step is to inoculate the patient from future bouts of illness. The fence, in this case, is not the emergency element; it is the inoculation. The emergency need is to disregard illegal nationwide court injunctions and follow the president’s unquestionable 212(f) and Article II powers to shut down cross-border migration. It’s an emergency need to end the asylum and UAC and Flores nonsense. It’s an emergency need to stop sanctuary cities. It’s an emergency need to have a military buildup and actually treat the cartels like a defense issue tactically.
Once we do all of that, then, frankly, we won’t even need a fence, because the flow will be shut down. Nonetheless, it’s important to eventually build one, so that if a future Democrat president renews all the invitations to come here illegally, at least there is a wall to slow them down. But that is not the urgent resuscitation; it is the long-term inoculation. If Trump is going to expend such political capital on executive action, why not take that action and direct it towards what is actually causing the emergency and what would solve it? How about we stop violating the Constitution by handing out American Social Security numbers to Obama’s illegally amnestied aliens? Why won’t Trump end Obama’s amnesty, and why is he continuing it even longer than the court asked?
This is the real problem with the executive action. We can make a strong case that the border situation is the biggest emergency we have had in years. But the actions of signing this amnesty bill, with no legitimate border security provisions, and then declaring an emergency just to reprogram a couple billion in DOD funding for a campaign promise, without simply using Article II powers to directly shut off the illegal immigration fueling all of this, drastically undermines the case.
If this is indeed an emergency, which I believe it is, Trump needs to demonstrate it holistically. It’s better policy and better politics.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.