All Those Lies on the Border

Much of what has been said of the challenges the Trump Administration faces in its fight against illegal immigration—specifically when it comes to the treatment of children—has stretched partial truths into total falsehoods.

First is the claim, as Justin Doom writes, that “no law mandates separating families.” Doom asserts this against Trump’s statement that U.S. policy separating families is law. Doom suggests that Trump is simply lying.

But Trump isn’t lying. The media is phenomenally misleading and is omitting the 1997 Flores consent decree, which states that children cannot be detained at all. That means if the government wants to detain illegal alien adults, children must be separated. “Trump’s only other choice would be not to prosecute illegal immigration at all,” writes Ben Shapiro.

The Flores decree says that unaccompanied children can be held for 20 days, and the Ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals extended this policy to apply to children who arrive in “family units,” although the adults that children arrive with are not always family. Rich Lowry explains:

If the adult then wants to go home, in keeping with the expedited order of removal that is issued as a matter of course, it’s relatively simple. The adult should be reunited quickly with his or her child, and the family returned home as a unit. In this scenario, there’s only a very brief separation.

Where it becomes much more of an issue is if the adult files an asylum claim. In that scenario, the adults are almost certainly going to be detained longer than the government is allowed to hold their children.

Once this happens, adults and the children they claim as family are released with orders to return to court for their immigration hearings. It’s not hard to see why this system is critically flawed. Illegal aliens simply need to land in a city or state with sanctuary laws and they’re safe.

To reiterate, this means the government is forced to separate families, squarely placing the fault on Democrats and leftist lawmakers, just like Trump says. The media won’t mention this, because that would undermine the anti-Trump narrative.

The Asylum Canard
Second, there is the claim that these families, particularly those with minors, must be allowed entry because they are fleeing trouble.

“Children are often targeted for recruitment by gangs, and their families seek safe haven in the United States,” writes Miriam Jordan. In the same column, however, Jordan acknowledges that the much-publicized emphasis on prioritizing those illegally entering the country with children has effectively incentivized human trafficking:

Beginning in 2013, minors were fraudulently plucked from shelters by men who posed as friends or family, promised to provide them shelter and transport them to their immigration court hearings, then made them work on egg farms in Ohio.

They were forced to toil long hours, live in dilapidated trailers and use their earnings to pay for their passage to the United States. Six people were later sentenced to federal prison for their participation in the scheme.

Jordan writes that it is unclear how frequently children are trafficked, but a report from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) provides an idea. FAIR’s analysis of U.S. State Department data shows 14,500 to 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked by coercion or force into the United States each year. The report notes that some estimates are as high as 19,000 and concludes that children are the most vulnerable targets. It can be inferred that these figures include children who have been “fraudulently plucked from shelters” and brought into the country in an effort to deceive immigration authorities.

But are these children truly safe from gangs in America? Not quite. Domestic gangs heavily recruit illegal aliens and children in particular.

When MS-13 was born in the barrios of Los Angeles in the 1980s, its membership consisted of youths from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Citing local gang investigators, Jessica Vaughn of the Center for Immigration Studies reports that illegal alien gangs like MS-13 continue aggressively to recruit children as young as 10 years old. By 2004, 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide in Los Angeles—a full 1,200 to 1,500—targeted illegal aliens, while as many as two-thirds of all fugitive felony warrants—17,000—were for illegal aliens.

Vaughn found that 1 in 4 members of MS-13 who’ve been arrested or charged with crimes since 2012 entered the country as a child. Her report also shows that the locations of crimes committed by MS-13 correspond with locations where large numbers of children were resettled by the federal government.

In a group of 506 MS-13 suspects, 120 arrived as minors. Of those, 48 were suspected of murder. Meanwhile, the number of DACA recipients who have lost their protected status due to gang involvement has surged into the thousands—including some arrested for human trafficking incidents. This is happening more frequently because the United States no longer has the means or the desire to assimilate foreigners, who thus retain the habits that have plunged their countries of origin into chaos.

Parents Putting Their Children at Risk
The ACLU condemned the zero-tolerance policy by arguing that only “parents who are abusive or unfit to care for their children can legally have them taken away.” Implicit in this line is that illegal aliens are entitled to all of the same legal rights as U.S. citizens the moment that they cross the border. They are not. As illegal aliens, they are subject to immigration law and policy. To suggest the rights of U.S. citizens are extended to people all over the globe is to abstract the idea of American government into a meaningless absurdity.

Truth is, the blame for family separations should fall on those who illegally enter the United States and place children at risk in the process. But the politics of guilt forbid such sobriety in judgment.

Consider that the same people who insist the National Rifle Association is somehow responsible for school shootings also insist that no illegal aliens should be blamed for family separations. Progressives will never generalize a group or place blame on an individual unless that group or individual violates some politically correct article of faith.

The administration is right to stand its ground, but this will only turn the media toward more flagrant emotional pandering. Videos of parents weeping, sound bites of kids yelling, “Mama!” Let us instead see footage of how millions of Latino children live already in California, where children mostly from immigrant families make up the greatest number of poor in the state. Should we throw more children onto that pile for a quick gratification of liberal sensibilities? Now they are poor and disadvantaged in America and displacing a needy American child as they receive aid, but at least we feel good about ourselves for being “inclusive?” Here many end up joining gangs they say they were attempting to avoid by emigrating? But we should applaud our humanity?

Find the Nerve
If the administration backs down on this—I pray it doesn’t—it is broadcasting a message to the world that if one wishes to bypass American law, one needs simply to abduct a child and use him as a token of passage into the country.

Further, what separates the United States from the Third World is that we are a nation of laws. This immigration scheme reduces us to lawlessness—undermining one of the characteristics that make America so desirable for immigrants (and illegals) in the first place. America will cease resembling anything American, and resemble the countries now sending us illegal aliens. When all of California resembles Mexico and El Salvador, to where will these people “flee” then? Shall we import the entire population of Central America, so long as each “family unit” bears a child? Progressives would make the entire population of Latin America into public charges for Americans, and ask Americans to nod and smile while it happens.

If elected officials do not find a spine, if they do not wipe the emotional-media-induced fog from their brains, history will remember them as cowards and fools who could have saved America from mass immigration but failed to do out of a misguided sense of paternalism. They will be remembered for patting themselves on their backs as the walls were overrun.

The only right thing to do is send these people back as they came, in groups, unharmed, and wish them the best.

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Photo credit: John Moore/Getty Images

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About Pedro Gonzalez

Pedro Gonzalez is associate editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture and an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He publishes the weekly Contra newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @emeriticus.

Photo: MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)