President Trump Threatens Border Closure. Here’s Why.

Border Patrol agents apprehend illegal immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley sector, 2014.McAllen, Texas. (Photo: Sara Carter)

President Donald Trump is threatening to close the United States border with Mexico as early as today, according to several recent Tweets. The border shutdown, say opponents,  could cause economic damage on American consumers and businesses. White House officials and federal law enforcement, however, contend the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants preparing to cross and the more than 270,000 since the start of the year constitutes a national emergency.

First, the illegal immigration surge is maxing out the space at existing detention centers and limiting the ability for U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and ICE officers to do their jobs, said several Department of Homeland Security officials. Moreover, Border Patrol agents and ICE officers say they lack the manpower and resources to tackle the large influx of illegal crossers.

In fact, an ICE official said there is no way to “actually calculate the number of illegal immigrants that have gotten away after crossing illegally because there is just not enough manpower to estimate. The numbers are way off and our primary mission of protecting the nation from threats is at the bottom of the barrel.

DHS officials interviewed by this reporter agree. They say there is enormous frustration and its mounting.

“This is an emergency because the amount of manpower working the field is minimal and people are getting away,” said a Border Patrol agent in Texas, who was not authorized to speak. “There is not enough agents to count got-aways. I’m sure if you talk to locals or other agencies they will say they don’t see anywhere near the number of agents they used to see on the past.”

Moreover, said the Border Patrol agent in frustration, “we are more of a travel agency. Welcome to America, that’s where my social security and taxes are going to.”

Administration Has Little Recourse On Border Crisis

It’s a problem that has left the administration, particularly Trump, with little recourse. Democrats, say Republican lawmakers, continue to stymie the administration’s attempts to stop the flow at the roughly 2,000 mile porous southern border.

Moreover, Trump tweeted on Monday “Democrats, working with Republicans in Congress, can fix the Asylum and other loopholes quickly. We have a National Emergency at our border. GET IT DONE NOW!”

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told ABC News’s “This Week” on Sunday, that it’s going to take “something dramatic” to stop Trump from shutting down the border. Kellyanne Conway said the same on Fox News Sunday, noting that Trump’s call for border closure “isn’t a bluff.”

Border Agents and ICE At Apex of Crisis

Border Patrol agents have been facing this challenge for decades. Under the Obama administration the increase of undocumented minors in 2014, stifled resources and led to distressed conditions for children crossing without guardians.

The only people winning in this national crisis are the drug cartels and human traffickers, Border Patrol agents and ICE officers say.

“The bad guys are paying attention,” said the Border Patrol agent. “The federal government needs to send a lot more manpower, they are not doing a good job. We need more buses and transport.”

DHS officials told this reporter that assistance from the Bureau of Prisons to assist in watching the “aliens and transport them to other stations to work” may help alleviate the resource issues.

“Why were they not ready for this?  BP can no longer say our primary mission is to prevent the entry of bad guys,” added the Border Patrol official. “We can only do that if we are lucky enough to have an agent who is not babysitting at the station or the hospital.”

The Numbers 
— March 19, CBP officers and agents stopped or apprehended 3,974 immigrants. According to CBP it was the highest single day since the beginning of the Trump administration.
— According to DHS statistics six other days since mid-February have topped 3,595. It has surpassed the daily average of 3,530 in fiscal year 2006.
Loopholes Exploited
  • TVPRA:

    The Trafficking Victims Protections Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). This loophole results in the swift U.S. resettlement of all illegal migrants under the age of 18. It does this by mandating that that upon arrival, unaccompanied alien minors (UAC) must be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and, as soon as practicable, released into the U.S. interior to as a sponsor, which is generally a parent or a relative, who themselves are often illegally present in the country. Once released, UACs are frequently allowed to stay. As a result, in just a few years, CBP has seen a sizeable increase in the number of UACs illegally entering the country. In 2010, Border Patrol apprehended 18,622 UACs. In 2018, Border Patrol apprehended 50,036 UACs—i.e. an increase of 169% in just 8 years.

  • The Flores Settlement Agreement:

    A 9th Circuit Court ruling that requires the release of family units (i.e. illegal alien adults traveling with a minor) after 20 days, even though it takes far longer to complete their immigration proceedings. As such, migrants know that their short stay in a U.S. detention facility is essentially just a waiting stop before they receive a bus ticket to their chosen U.S. city.

Moreover, in 2013, Border Patrol apprehended 14,855 FMUA. In 2018, Border Patrol apprehended 107,212 FMUA—i.e. an increase of more than 620% in just 5 years.

  • Weak Asylum Laws:

    Weak asylum laws have allowed migrants with meritless claims to illegally cross the border. Many claim “credible fear,” and then they are automatically released waiting lengthy proceedings. They are released because the wait  far exceed DHS’ ability to detain them. Before 2013, approximately 1 out of every 100 arriving aliens claimed credible fear and sought asylum. Today, that number is 1 out of every 10.

      • In the last 8 years, these claims have spiked by a 1700%. Such asylum fraud and abuse has contributed to a court backlog, which is now over 600,000 cases.
      • Approximately 80% of individuals from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador passed their initial credible fear screening. Yet, only 20 percent were granted asylum by a judge once they got to court.
      • The overall screen-in rate for the April 11, 2018  to June 6, 2018  in the “caravan” was 93%. For example, 347 out of 401 claims receiving credible fear referrals.

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