It's A Disaster At The Border

Matt Vespa

6/30/2014 8:16:00 PM - Matt Vespa

It’s no surprise that there’s a disaster unfolding at our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied minors are risking their lives as they attempt to cross the border. It’s become a humanitarian issue. My colleague Daniel Doherty wrote this afternoon about President Obama’s declaration that he’ll find ways to circumvent Congress to remedy the situation.

Right now, the situation is a mess, with Border Patrol agents stationed in the wrong places. Last week, Katie Pavlich wrote about a disturbing incident where a Mexican military helicopter entered U.S. airspace and fired upon Border Patrol agents.

Currently, we have to figure out what to do with the waves of unaccompanied youth at the border. Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner wrote today that:

Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of the immigration policy program at the Migration Policy Institute, said having parents and other relatives who had made it into the United States was a “pull factor” in their journey north, now in record-breaking numbers.

“The main pull in the United States is that most of these kids who are arriving have families here,” Rosenblum said in a conference call to discuss the new border crisis. “Between a half and three-quarters of the unauthorized children who are arriving mention having parents in the U.S. as a factor in their migration decision. And 85 to 90 percent of them are being placed with parents or extended family members here while they wait for a removal hearing,” he added.

Rosenblum, a former congressional immigration expert to advised the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, also said that 40 percent to 60 percent of the 52,000 youths who've been apprehended at the border since October have a “valid” humanitarian claim against returning to their country, typically Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador.

But, conditions in the detention centers for those caught by U.S. Border Patrol are horrific. Brittany Hughes of CNSNews.com traveled to the border and reported on the crisis last week:

Hovering somewhere between urine and unwashed humanity, the air is thick and hot. The sound inside the circular, glass-enclosed control room is like that of a beehive, humming with the noise of hundreds of voices mixed with buzzers and footsteps. “This is where we do the processing,” the border patrol agent tells us.

The scene is devastating, and it’s only one of several windows into the illegal immigration crisis that’s sweeping across the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border. Since October 2013, more than 181,000 illegal immigrants have already crossed this 250-costal-mile area alone, and the McAllen, Texas station has been the hardest hit.

Border patrol officers are doing the best they can, but they simply aren’t equipped to handle the masses that have flooded their facilities.

It should also be noted that if the Gang of 8’s immigration bill, which was passed by the Senate last summer, were enacted today, it would do little to curb the massive influx of minors coming to the United States.

In a follow-up piece, Hughes spoke with a border patrol agent who said bluntly that they "don’t have control of the border:"

Albert Spratte, the sergeant-at-arms of the National Border Patrol Council, Local 3307 in the Rio Grande Valley, said the Obama administration is largely to blame for waves of illegal immigrants that have been flooding the Southwest U.S. border since February, saying the government opened the door for the crisis by making it “clear they’re not going to deport people.”

“This is Washington’s problem to fix. This administration has made it pretty clear they’re not going to deport people, with things like the DREAM Act and all that,” Spratte told CNSNews.com during an interview on June 22 in McAllen, Texas, currently the busiest zone of the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border.

“It used to be that if you got caught, we sent you back. Now we don’t do that,” he said. “The people in Central America, they’ve heard we aren’t sending people back. Word’s gotten around. When these people come up to us and turn themselves over, that’s what they tell us. So we’ve created a suction now.”

This situation is a mess – and it's being made worse with mixed signals from Washington.

Addendum: Border Patrol agents catching scabies, chicken pox, and TB from illegal immigrants via (CBS DFW):

Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says the unaccompanied child was recently hospitalized after being diagnosed with swine flu, or H1N1. Wolfe says officials believe this is an isolated incident but are closely monitoring all children at Lackland and other similar shelters the agency is operating around the country.

“That tells you that when you’ve got kids coming in from some of these countries where they don’t have great health systems, we gotta watch out,” says [Rep. Henry] Cuellar. “I’ve talked to border patrol down in McAllen. They’ve seen TB; they’ve seen chicken pox; they’ve seen scabies. And according to Border Patrol, 4 or 5 of their agents have tested positive for those diseases.”