New, awful data shows that the border invasion is worse than ever

· March 5, 2019  
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Border Patrol at Paso del Norte
HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP | Getty Images

If Trump had not signed the disastrous budget bill several weeks ago and we were still operating on a short-term CR with immigration remaining the top issue, today’s news could have strengthened Trump’s leverage. According to CBP’s preliminary figures obtained by the Washington Post, 76,325 illegal aliens were apprehended at the border in February, more than any other month in over a decade since the decline of migration from Mexico. A record 40,325 family units arrived, blowing out the previous records by almost 10,000. Sadly, Trump already signed away his leverage to force a national dialogue over this issue.

As a nation, we are left debating presidential power from an obscure statute that enables the president to obtain a mere $2.5 billion for partial fencing to deal with a policy-driven invasion. The joke is that even if Trump had full unity behind this approach, it would do little to stop this invasion, which is strategically directed toward soft parts of our border. Unless we force a national discussion over the courts and the illegal immigration magnets that are bringing immigrants in, this entire debate is a non-sequitur. Unfortunately, without a budget deadline for another seven months, no matter how bad things get at our border, there is no mechanism through which to pressure Democrats into submission.

A record 76,325 apprehensions for one month is truly staggering, not only because it’s the single worst month at the border since fiscal year 2008, but because almost all of these people get to stay on our dime. Projected for the whole year, this pace would result in 916,000 apprehensions. But the pace is growing every month, because the catch-and-release expands. As the Washington Post observes, “The number of migrants taken into custody last year jumped 39 percent from February to March, and a similar increase this month would push levels to 100,000 detentions or more.” That would be an annual pace of 1.2 million.

While we had years with over one million apprehensions in past decades, most of the illegal immigrants were repatriated under expedited deportation within hours. This means that a lot of them were repeat crossers and they were deported in short order. These people coming now are first-timers and are successfully embedding themselves into our country within a few days, saddling us with the permanent cost of their care.

In an interview with CR, Mark Morgan, former Border Patrol chief under Obama, explained why today’s migration is really worse than ever before:

When anyone opines that the apprehension numbers are at a historic low to support the claim that there is no crisis along our southwest border, they are leaving out a critical factor — the demographics of those illegally entering our country. In the early 2000s when apprehensions were around one million, the overwhelming majority were Mexican adults. They were processed and returned to Mexico within days through an expedited removal process. Since 2014, we have seen a significant shift in who is illegally entering through the southwest border. Today, family units and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum account for more than 60 percent of those being apprehended. The essential difference is they are not removed! Through our country’s broken asylum laws and bad judicial precedent, this new demographic of illegal aliens are caught and released into cities throughout the country. So, even though last year the apprehensions dropped to 400,000 … the number of illegal aliens allowed into the United States has actually increased from a decade ago.

Plus, this is a worse migration because it’s dominated by kids and sick individuals who tie down our resources more than in the past. Morgan explained that even at the worst times under his tenure, roughly 10-12 percent of Border Patrol resources were diverted to humanitarian care. Now, “approximately 25 percent of agents are pulled off the line on a daily basis to address the humanitarian crisis, acting as child care providers.” Morgan also said that nobody is discussing the fact that Border Patrol engaged in 4,300 rescues last year and over 1,000 thus far this year, “another example of the risk and resources being used for the humanitarian crisis rather than the security crisis.”

In recent months, even the overall numbers are climbing back to dangerously high levels. Almost none of those coming here are being deported. Back during the years with over one million apprehensions, all but 100,000 were returned expeditiously. Now, over a half a million will get to stay, but the trajectory is exploding every few weeks.

Here is a quick report from Todd Bensman of the Center for Immigration Studies on what he’s hearing about the state of play at our border. This is an anonymous USCIS source, but Bensman, with his background in border intelligence for the Texas Department of Public Safety, seems very concerned:

Nobody in the political class wants to ask who is paying for this. It’s the forgotten American taxpayers.

It’s gotten so bad that illegal aliens have successfully taken us past our breaking point, creating a self-fulfilling cycle of catch-and-release. We are so overrun with migrants and detention facilities are so full that now, even those not eligible for catch-and-release are being released. We will never hear from them again, but will have to pay for their public charge and crimes committed.

Thus, we see that when the president gives speeches and says he didn’t let in the caravan and that catch-and-release is over, it’s plainly wrong. Under Trump, we are witnessing a more severe invasion than any time under Obama. It’s not his fault that the courts decided to engage in civil disobedience against our laws under his watch, but it is his fault that he refuses to push back. He is using the one bullet in his “executive action gun” on $2.5 billion in border funding rather than shutting off all immigration and refusing to allow in anyone, a power he has under inherent executive authority to stop an invasion, halt foreign commerce, and two delegated powers from the INA. Frankly, he would be on even more solid constitutional grounds by halting all immigration at the border than by reprogramming appropriations, and it would actually address the source of the problem more directly.

Sadly, now that Trump agreed to sign away his leverage, the immigration issue is no longer even at the top of the news cycle and has been replaced by Michael Cohen and all the Mueller-related probes from House Democrats. As such, Trump is left focusing on pennies for the border rather than changing policies. So long as the focus is on pennies and not policies, this invasion will continue with no safety net to protect the American people.

Every few months, the equivalent of a major city of the most impoverished people are coming in and being released into our communities with no regard to our ability to assimilate them, pay for them, or deal with the social concerns and the criminal elements. Not to mention the fact that they are coming from countries dealing with major outbreaks of diseases we eradicated long ago.

Mr. President, either we have border or we don’t, and as such, either we are a country or we are not.


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Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.