Facilities in Texas and Arizona have quickly become overburdened, and emergency shelters have been opened at military bases in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and California. Border Patrol agents are also concerned about unsanitary conditions, such as the practice of quarantining sick immigrants behind a piece of yellow tape and nothing more. Agents report chicken pox and MRSA staph infections. Similar concerns have been expressed for the Border Patrol personnel exposed to these hazards.
By Andrew Thomas l July 15, 2014
As a growing string of policy debacles threatens to consign his presidency to the ranks of failures, President Barack Obama has taken bold steps in the area of immigration to transform America and reshape his legacy. By ignoring the Constitution’s separation of powers and using his executive powers effectively to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws, Obama has helped trigger a torrent of fresh illegal immigration across the nation’s southern border. In doing so, he has laid claim to the sympathies of liberal historians who dominate the academy and can burnish his image one day, while simultaneously delivering a sharp jab to his detractors. But he has also called down a cascade of problems for the nation being asked to absorb a seemingly endless stream of new foreign nationals.
What the Obama administration has gingerly called a “humanitarian crisis” is rapidly accelerating. The ongoing, open rush of Latin Americans scrambling north across an insecure porous border to gain entry into the United States now produces an estimated 35,000 illegal immigrants a month. The actual numbers cannot be known but could easily be higher.
The Obama administration dismisses talk that the president’s own conduct contributed to the situation. Obama’s proposals for blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants, through so-called comprehensive immigration reform he has urged Congress to pass, were oft-repeated and heavily publicized throughout Latin America. Most directly, the president declared, for all intents and purposes, his administration will not enforce federal law and deport illegal immigrants who are juveniles.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, authored by Obama in 2012, urged subordinate federal officials to use “prosecutorial discretion” in enforcing immigration laws against most illegal immigrants. This directive was essentially a wink-and-a-nod to federal law-enforcement officials, implicitly asking them not to work very hard to deport illegal immigrants except for known violent criminals. They have complied, by and large, with the result that these deportations overwhelmingly have dried up.
“We have heard sort of rumors and reports, or suggestions, that the increase may be in response to the perception that children would be allowed to stay or that immigration reform would in some way benefit these children,” White House Domestic Policy Council director Cecilia Muñoz told the news media recently. “It seems to be quite clear that what is driving this is what’s happening in their home countries.”
Yet, the facts say otherwise. Illegal immigration by Latin American juveniles soared right after DACA was announced. The Christian Science Monitor has noted the number of unaccompanied minors illegally entering the country escalated dramatically right after Obama unveiled DACA. They rose from 6,560 in fiscal year 2011 to 13,625 the year after DACA, to at least 50,000 since October 2013, and an estimated 150,000-160,000 next year.
Law enforcement along the border, and the illegal immigrants themselves, rebut Obama’s claim that his administration has not generated this crisis. National Border Patrol Council local vice president Chris Cabrera told the New York Times, “Word has gotten out that we’re giving people permission and walking them out the door” after they’re processed. “So they’re coming across in droves.”
Times reporters found “immigrants sneaking into America seem pre-armed with expectations about how the Obama administration will welcome them.” One thirteen-year-old told a reporter, “If you make it, they take you to a shelter and take care of you and let you have permission to stay.” After that, “When you appeal your case, if you say you want to study, they support you.”
Another liberal newspaper, on the opposite coast, found much the same. Reporters with the Los Angeles Times described the Rio Grande Valley as “ground zero for an unprecedented surge in families and unaccompanied children flooding across the Southwest border.” Local authorities compare the influx to the thousands of residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Reporters described a beautiful 96-acre park along the southern bend of the Rio Grande has being transformed “from an idyllic family recreation area into a high-traffic zone for illegal migration.” Recently, one illegal immigrant “barely made it across the river before giving birth among the park’’s red and blue picnic tables and signs warning ‘Children at Play.’” Other illegal immigrants time their arrivals for the weekends, when Americans are enjoying the park, in order to try to “blend in with picnicking crowds.”
Many illegal immigrants simply walk up to federal and local law-enforcement officers and turn themselves in, knowing they can stay afterwards – and perhaps indefinitely – as their cases churn through the system. One woman carrying two purses, “as if headed to the mall,” walked up to a county deputy constable and surrendered. She explained her “son needs an eye operation she could not afford.”
Facilities in Texas and Arizona have quickly become overburdened, and emergency shelters have been opened at military bases in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and California. But Cabrera said agents are also concerned about unsanitary conditions, such as the practice of quarantining sick immigrants behind a piece of yellow tape and nothing more. “It’s not just the disease issues, but the sheer amount of filth that’s floating through the air,” he explained. His fellow agents report chicken pox, MRSA staph infections. Zack Taylor, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, expressed similar concerns for the Border Patrol personnel exposed to these hazards.
Lawsuits have ensued in short order, but not to ensure the health and safety of law-enforcement agents. Rather, they are designed to assert the rights of illegal immigrants placed in allegedly unsafe conditions. Five immigrant-rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, recently sued the federal government. Their suit alleges that illegal-immigrant children in custody between the ages of 5 and 17 were subjected to physical and sexual abuse, overcrowding, and substandard food and water.
After the immigrants are processed, they are flown elsewhere, often to other states. There they are deposited at bus stations and other locations with notices to appear in immigration courts in the vicinity. Many are turned over, in the meantime, to parents or relatives who themselves have immigrated illegally.
In the face of such chaos, Obama has had little to say or propose. He places much of the blame on Congress for failing to pass his proposed comprehensive immigration legislation. Yet the bill promises amnesty for illegal immigrants already here. As such, the legislation, at its core, offers additional inducement to those in Latin American to make the journey north.
DACA bestowed de facto amnesty on illegal-immigrant youths. The administration has stated their focus is seeking deportation merely of illegal immigrants who have committed violent crimes, not run-of-the-mill illegal immigrants. The latter effectively are allowed to remain indefinitely.
The fresh onslaught of illegal immigrants is a rational response to the Obama administration’s open invitation to foreign nationals to come, by any means necessary, and gain open-ended sanctuary here, effectively declaring America’s southern border wide open and shredding our nation’s sovereignty.
This Obama-inspired influx is very different from past waves of immigrants fleeing their homelands. These groups typically came by sea. As a result, they could be processed and regulated in an orderly manner. Those who came from Europe a century ago had to dock and enter through ports and customs houses, where they were checked and, if need be, quarantined or even deported. More recently, those who arrived via mass boatlifts from communist countries such as Cambodia or Cuba likewise could be processed through a reasonably disciplined, organized procedure. The current crisis entails a headlong rush by thousands of people across a two-thousand-mile sovereign land border shared with a foreign country that is, at best, not deterring these incursions and the president of a nation in defiance of a Constitution he’s sworn to “preserve, protect and defend.”
At the apex of this disorder is a federal government that, by presidential mandate, is choosing not to do much about it except bill the taxpayers for the associated costs. The leader presiding over it all seems perfectly content with the fundamental transformation of America he so boldly proclaimed just before his 2008 election. Given his liberal impulses, Barack Obama may well be privately pleased with the outcome.
Andrew Thomas is a graduate of the University of Missouri and Harvard Law School. Twice elected as Maricopa County Attorney, the district attorney for greater Phoenix, Arizona, Thomas served a county of four million residents and ran one of the largest prosecutor’s offices in the nation. He established a national reputation for fighting violent crime, identity theft, drug abuse and illegal immigration. He is the author of four books, including Clarence Thomas: A Biography and The People v. Harvard Law: How America’s Oldest Law School Turned Its Back on Free Speech. Mr. Thomas is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.