What do we owe the enormous numbers of children who have crossed our borders illegally in the last couple of months from various countries in Central America? We certainly owe it to them to not kill, starve, beat, or otherwise harm them while they’re here. But beyond that? Nothing but a speedy and safe trip back home.
It would solve a host of problems and be cost-effective too, and it’s a good bet that, as soon as the word got out in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador (and you can also bet that the word would get out very quickly) of what’s happening here, the sudden flood of immigrants would magically slow to a tiny trickle.
But it won’t be done. And the reason is that neither political party has the will to do it. And what of the will of the American people — not that anyone in government cares? It’s hard to discover, because there’s a paucity of polls that specifically address the issue of the recent crisis. Most of the older polls on the subject of illegal immigration have to do with the children of immigrants who came here illegally with their parents years ago, a sort of grandfathering-in (grandchildrening-in?) of a phenomenon that people feel was already a fait accompli.
The current situation is unique from previous ones in that, at least in logistical terms, it would be an easier task to transport the children and families who have recently entered illegally back to their home countries. Unlike in the past, the new arrivals are not trying to evade capture, but are instead giving themselves up voluntarily and therefore the vast majority have been put in custody from the outset. We are already paying a great deal of money to house them and provide them with all sorts of services, and therefore it most likely would cost less rather than more to send them home.
So, what’s the problem with doing just that (in addition, of course, to the fact that the current administration and much of Congress would be against it)? Here’s the catch:
U.S. law requires that these children be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services, which works to find family or friends in the U.S. until their deportation cases are processed.
The operative law is Section 462 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. And how have those deportation cases ordinarily been “processed”? Very, very slowly. In fact, all those children and families currently streaming across the border with the perception that they can stay here are not misguided at all; they are correct. Here’s the way it currently works [emphasis mine]:
…[M]ost [children who come here illegally and are apprehended] spend about one month in the custody of the Office of Refugee and Resettlement under the Health and Human Services Department, before they are reunited with parents or other relatives in the United States. There is no requirement that their parents or those other relatives were legally allowed into the United States.
All the young immigrants who cross the border illegally are subject to deportation eventually. But it’s not a quick process.
The immigration court system was backlogged with as many as 30,000 pending cases before the most recent surge.
Court delays that already persist for years will grow even longer as the beleaguered system absorbs the cases for the new children immigrants. That will make the risk of speedy deportation even less likely and further fuel perceptions that crossing the U.S. border carries few immediate consequences.
How do they plead at their hearings? Why, they ask for asylum for political reasons, that’s how. It takes years to go through that system, and in the meantime the taxpayer pays for their lawyers:
“They almost never go home,” said Gary Mead, who until last year was director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office responsible for finding and removing immigrants living in the country…
Antunez lived in the U.S. for nearly nine months before his first court hearing…[at which point he] was ordered to come back again next year after his lawyer told Judge John M. Bryant that his client will ask the government for asylum.
It was the same for many for the teenagers who stood in court for their first hearings…
Cuco, the immigration lawyer, said next year’s hearing will only be the beginning of a process that will take years longer…Six months after his asylum claim is filed, Antunez can apply for a work permit.
Final decisions by immigration judges can take years, but that supposes immigrants dutifully attend their assigned hearings. Many won’t. As many as one-quarter of the immigrants ordered to show up in court in recent years have failed to appear…
So, why even bother with trying to pass amnesty de jure? It already substantially exists de facto. Yes, there are a few things illegal immigrants still can’t do, such as run for office or vote — right? Right?:
For example, in many states that do not require voter ID…all one must do to prove they can vote is show a home utility bill. That means an illegal alien who can easily register to vote online without ID, only needs to show up to the polls with a utility bill that has their name on it in order to cast a vote in a US election. Moreover, this action would not trigger any red flag because the voter complied with existing law.
To those who say it’s not happening because we haven’t caught a lot of people doing it, the correct response is that, if it’s so hard to detect, how would we ever know how many people are guilty of it?
It’s commonly said that our immigration system is broken. But that statement doesn’t go nearly far enough. The system isn’t broken, which manages to imply some sort of accident. It was deliberately smashed. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t ever put it together again — not if they lack the will to do so.