News & Politics

DHS Secretary to Caravan: 'You Are Not Getting In'

Members of a US-bound migrant caravan cross a bridge between the Mexican states of Chiapas and Oaxaca after federal police briefly blocked them outside the town of Arriaga, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has a message for the 7,000 illegal immigrants making their way toward the U.S. border. “My general message to this caravan is: Do not come,” Nielsen told “Fox News Sunday.” “You will not be allowed in.”

But the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency,  Kevin McAleenan, has a different message. He said, “We’re not going to allow a large group to push into the United States unlawfully. We can’t have it. It’s not safe for anybody involved.”

“It’s not turning people away, it’s asking them to wait,” he added.

The emphasis in recent days by the administration has been on preventing illegal crossings of the border. This occurred last week when the caravan busted through a police and army line along the Mexican border with Guatemala. The Mexican police ended up standing aside and allowing the caravan to pass after several officers and migrants were injured.

But Neilsen is calling out caravan organizers by explaining the intent of the administration:

“We have a crisis at the border right now … [and] this caravan is one iteration of that,” Nielsen said. “Frankly, we essentially see caravans every day with these numbers.”

The Mexican government has already offered some caravan members asylum, Nielsen said. She directed those wishing to emigrate from their home countries to settle there.

“Mexico has offered them asylum — in some cases, they have refused. Mexico has offered them work permits — in some cases, they have refused,” Nielsen said. “What the president and I are both saying … is, ‘if you seek asylum, do so in that country.'”

She went on to outline how asylum is different from other means of immigration — reasons why, she said, that caravan members should not continue to the U.S. border.

“Mexico has offered you refuge. If you want a job, that is not asylum. If you want to be reunited with your family, that is not asylum. If you want to just come live in the United States, that is not asylum,” she said. “There are legal ways to do that, but this is about the rule of law.”

When the CPB chief acknowledges that we are not going to turn away asylum seekers, it dilutes Secretary Neilsen’s strong message about not letting the illegals enter the country. But Neilsen’s point is valid: if you want asylum, why not take Mexico up on its generous offer?

The caravan members may, in fact, be escaping violence and extreme poverty. But it’s not asylum they want. And for the media and Democrats to pretend otherwise is dishonest. This “migration” has a distinct economic character to it. People want a better life and who can blame them, considering where they’re coming from?

But first, foremost, and always, if you want to come to America, you’ve got to follow the rules. And rule number one is, get in line. There are about 2 million people around the world who wait — some as long as five years — to enter the U.S. legally. Many of them are in equally dire circumstances. I’ll be the first to advocate for a streamlined, faster way for immigrants to come to America. The system is inefficient and antiquated. We should be able to vet new arrivals more thoroughly and with greater dispatch.

Simply walking up to the door and pleading poverty, or oppression, or unemployment should not grant you a place in line ahead of those who have, for years, jumped through all the hoops required by DHS to come here legally.

It’s a question of fairness and national security.