An article posted at The Federalist on Thursday includes the testimony of Federalist senior correspondent John Daniel Davidson, delivered before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Some highlights of his testimony:
McAllen, a city of fewer than 150,000 residents, is now facing the prospect of thousands of migrants discharged from ICE custody, wandering the streets and sleeping in doorways and on park benches—the city’s mayor has said as much. What’s more, in February the city ordered Catholic Charities to vacate the former nursing home and find a new location within 90 days, citing complaints from neighbors about constant traffic and strangers wandering nearby streets where children play. By any measure, the situation in McAllen is an emergency.
This is just one border town in Texas. Something similar is playing out all up and down the U.S.-Mexico border. In El Paso, hundreds of migrant families are turning themselves in to Border Patrol every day, overwhelming federal facilities and personnel. In a five-minute stretch one day in late March, Border Patrol apprehended two different groups totaling 400 people. On the night of President Trump’s rally in El Paso in February, a group of 300 turned themselves in to the Santa Teresa Border Patrol station, which sits on an empty stretch of New Mexico scrubland 22 miles west of El Paso. Agents had to move all the ATVs out of the garage just so a hundred or so migrants would have someplace warm to sleep that night. Since then, things have been getting worse.
The testimony states:
If you spend enough time talking to migrants themselves, a pattern begins to emerge. Most of them have similar stories about why they left their home countries in Central America, and they report similar experiences of how they made their way through Mexico to the southern U.S. border. A few common characteristics stand out:
- A majority of the “family units” are men traveling with one or more children;
- Many of these men say they have a wife and other children back in their home country and that they intend to secure work in the U.S. and send money back to support them;
- They are headed for all points across the U.S. and have family members or friends in those places. Many of them also have jobs already lined up;
- Nearly all of them say they left their homes because it is dangerous, citing gang violence, threats, extortion, etc.; they are all claiming asylum.
- At the same time, many of them will admit that they don’t plan to remain in the U.S. permanently, and in fact have a set amount of time they plan to live and work here before returning home;
- All of them say they paid a smuggler to secure safe passage to the border (the amount varies from $2,000 to $6,000 per person, sometimes more). Generally, they say they took cars or buses for transit through Mexico.
The testimony concludes:
Without a doubt, there is a crisis at the southern border. But it’s a deeply misunderstood crisis that’s being driven by specific factors and disproportionately affecting specific regions of the border, primarily the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso. In general, the growing numbers of migrants now crossing the border are being driven by three major factors:
- If you’re a minor or a family, it’s even easier to enter the U.S. now than it was during the Obama administration for the simple reason that there is no capacity at federal detention facilities and families can expect to be released soon after being detained by Border Patrol.
- Smugglers are now marketing to people —women, families—who don’t want to undertake an arduous or dangerous journey. They have created a sophisticated and efficient busing package that has proven very popular with families, and word has gotten back to communities in Central America that, if they pay, the journey will be short, safe, and they will not be detained for long once inside the U.S.
- Conditions in Central America have not improved enough to induce people to remain in their home countries. Persistent poverty, violence, and corruption, combined with the fear that it’s not going to be this easy to get into the U.S. forever, is prompting families to come now.
There is no easy solution to this crisis. Border security is part of the solution, but so is congressional action.
As long as Central American families know they can gain entry to the U.S. by initiating asylum proceedings upon crossing the border, the crisis will continue. As long as cartels and criminal networks know they can profit from trafficking migrant families to the border, they will do so. And as long as conditions in Central America continue to fester, families who can afford it will seek a better life for their children by traveling north.
The crisis on our southern border is not the result of anything President Trump has done. It is the result of years of inaction by Congress and previous administrations. As previously stated–Democrats see illegal immigrants as future Democrat voters; Republicans see illegal immigrants as cheap labor. Neither party sees them as desperate people. President Trump is at least trying to discourage them from making a long, dangerous trip. President Trump is also trying to protect America from being overwhelmed. If you doubt what this is about, look up the Cloward-Piven strategy. It explains what is currently happening (and illustrates why it must be stopped).