I recently returned from a trip to the southern border. In Eagle Pass, Del Rio, and San Antonio, Texas, we spoke to sheriffs, local officials, ranchers and people who had illegally entered the United States through what is effectively an open border. I left with the distinct impression that things will get worse before they get better.
Here are three key takeaways:
First, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has done an impressive job of dismantling enforcement at the border.
Second, immigrants don’t stay near the border.
Third, the consequences of this mass migration will be felt all over the country, gradually but inexorably.
One of the consequences of near-nonexistent border security is the mounting death toll due to preventable drug smuggling and unsafe crossings.
On my first day in Texas, the San Antonio Express-News headline was “Teen’s overdose death part of a troubling trend.” With the recent discovery of Fentanyl disguised as Nerds and Skittles candy, there is no end in sight to the current crisis of drug overdoses which took 107,000 American lives last year, 67% of them due to synthetic opioids, which come over the border.
On my last day in Texas, the headline in the Del Rio and Eagle Pass News Leader was ‘Toddler Dies in the Rio Grande.” More than 750 people died while attempting to enter the U.S. illegally in the just-ended fiscal year.
People often ask me why the current administration is allowing this unprecedented influx, when they are legally obliged to protect our borders and enforce our laws. Honestly, I don’t know. It is hard to fathom the level of ideological commitment that would engender this kind of abject abandonment of duty.
One theory is that they see an electoral advantage in growing the population in large cities and states with a Democratic majority. The notion is that this will increase congressional representation and, they hope, voter support in the long term.
A second theory holds that the more leftist administration staff are ideologically opposed to borders. Given President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ lack of interest in the border crisis, and with Mayorkas’ positive support, this wing has been able to implement their vision of unlimited entry for economic migrants and what they see as “marginalized,” “oppressed” people.
Mayorkas’ Migration Machine
Here’s the system now in operation. Arrivals are channeled towards open gates, landing beaches and ports of entry. Their putative name and ages are recorded. Their photos and fingerprints are taken. They are then given an alien number and “paroled” into the country with instructions to report to Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 60 days.
If they do, they will be put into theoretical deportation proceedings, against which they will claim asylum. Depending on various legal factors, they will either join the 8.5 million pending cases with the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review, or the 8.5 million pending cases at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Eventually, perhaps in 5 or 10 years, they will have a decision and either be allowed to remain or ordered to depart. In the latter case, they can launch appeals which will drag on further.
Once paroled, illegal immigrants are free to go, often at taxpayer’s expense, to areas where they have relatives or think they will find work.
Costs Are Mounting
As five busloads arrived in New York on Oct. 3, Adams ran out of homeless shelter space. He is now working on arranging for a Norwegian cruise ship to house them all. New York public schools have admitted 1,000 new (unfunded) students, and more are on the way.
Portland, Maine, is running out of money to house the many asylum seekers drawn by its generous policy of providing housing and financial support. Houston and northern Virginia are tapped out.
Martha’s Vineyard is still quaking from its 48-hour brush with 50 illegal immigrants from Venezuela, and the mayors of Washington, D.C., and Chicago are clamoring for more federal funds.
As long as the left continues to see any opposition to unlimited, chaotic immigration as racist or part of some oppressive “system,” American cities and communities will continue to feel the burden and the additional costs. Schools, hospitals and homeless shelters are just the beginning.
While the vast majority of illegal immigrants are peaceful, albeit indigent, thousands are convicted criminals. Many will offend again, except this time their victims are likely to be Americans.
“Operation Allies Welcome” aims to settle 80,000 Afghans. It has proved to be a messy project and is nowhere near completion. But that project is nothing compared to the challenge of settling a never-ending flow of illegal immigrants crossing our southern border.
Simon Hankinson is a senior research fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Affairs.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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