You can’t appreciate how bad the situation is unless you read deep into this story, past the first few paragraphs. Don’t stop until you get to the part where the acting head of DHS starts describing the number of Guatemalans arriving in the U.S. as a percentage of the country’s total population.
The silver lining for border hawks, I guess, is that Trump’s legal case that there’s a national emergency at the border that requires reappropriating Pentagon money to build a wall gets stronger by the day. The gray cloud is that a wall won’t turn back all of this tide. “The migrant families who cross the border appear to know that they have a relatively easy path to release into the United States,” notes WaPo drily — namely, by surrendering to the Border Patrol, asking for asylum, and counting on the strain on the system to guarantee their release into the United States.
The chief of the Border Patrol, in fact, is now openly contemplating losing control of the border entirely.
“Our apprehension numbers are off the charts,” Carla Provost, chief of the Border Patrol, said in testimony to senators in Washington on Wednesday afternoon. “We cannot address this crisis by shifting more resources. It’s like holding a bucket under a faucet. It doesn’t matter how many buckets we have if we can’t turn off the flow.”
“My greatest concern is that we will no longer be able to deliver consequences and we will lose control of the border,” Provost said…
DHS officials already have declared a “breaking point” for U.S. border agents and infrastructure, with court rulings and a crunch of detention space forcing them to release the vast majority of migrant family members and children into the interior of the United States. Border officials view single adult migrants as the one remaining demographic they can deter by “applying consequences.”
“If we were forced to release single adults, our prediction is you would see a draw or a flow that we’ve never seen before in our history,” the DHS official said.
The crush at the border is self-reinforcing, in other words: As word gets back to Central America that many immigrants aren’t being detained, those considering making the trip have that much more incentive to follow through. More than 109,000 arrests were made last month, a six percent increase from March, although some officials think the numbers could go as high as 150,000 per month this summer. WaPo notes that the Border Patrol made 5,000 arrests this past Saturday alone, the highest single-day number in several years. If the forecasts are right about 150,000 per month, they’ll be doing that daily soon.
South Bend, Indiana, which is governed by a semi-credible Democratic presidential candidate, has a population of about 100,000. We’re absorbing the equivalent of a South Bend from Central America every single month.
The new arrivals aren’t all trickling in individually either. To the contrary, WaPo notes that “Border Patrol has taken in 135 large groups consisting of 100 or more migrants in the past seven months, 10 times the total during all of 2018.” It’s families, not just young men looking for work, who are arriving and forcing DHS to shuffle resources. More beds being occupied by families means fewer beds for single adults, raising the possibility of the nightmare scenario in the excerpt in which even singles go free. (Per CNN, 168,000 family members have been released since December alone.) ICE has been forced to pull agents away from their regular beats to help assist with the border crunch, with the result a 14 percent decline in arrests of illegals with criminal records.
Trump’s going to get some more money for the border from Congress soon — even the NYT is nudging Pelosi to make it happen — but needless to say, there won’t be any grand compromise on tightening asylum procedures. (If that happens, it’ll be unilateral action by Trump that does it.) I think Democrats see this issue as a political winner for them: Because every president tends to bear the blame for policy failures during his term, Pelosi’s likely betting that most voters will view this immigration crush as Trump’s failure rather than as a failure of Democrats to cooperate on beefing up enforcement, particularly since “stronger borders!” was a core part of Trump’s 2016 message. Case in point:
Surge of illegal aliens under Trump is worse than under ANY year under Obama. That's 3-D chess, baby! https://t.co/q7OO9zzdvP
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 8, 2019
Even if Pelosi wanted to compromise, though, the left probably wouldn’t allow it. They see porous borders as desirable; if the Border Patrol’s fears of a total breakdown in control of the border were realized, so much the better. Radicalization of the right on border enforcement in response to the radicalization of the left is inevitable if something doesn’t change. Pelosi’s a fool for thinking short-term when she should be thinking long.