Congress gave the immigration authorities a tool to prevent this kind of thing. “Expedited removal” was authorized in the 1996 immigration law and allows border agents to make a determination whether an asylum applicant has a “credible fear” of persecution — a lower bar than you need to prove to actually receive asylum but enough to get you into the pipeline and, usually, released into the general population while you wait for your hearing. The problem is that DHS is setting the credible fear bar too low, letting in people who should simply be turned away. This is all the more true given that asylum is only available to people who can’t find a place within their own country where they can escape persecution; much of Mexico has not experienced cartel violence, so asylum applications should be dismissed out of hand. If a border journalist, say, flees a border bridge one step ahead of cartel assassins, we’re obviously not going to send him back the way he came. But granting him asylum isn’t the answer; rather, we need to put him on a plane headed for Mexico City or a ship bound for Yucatan — places in his own country.
The reason this could spiral out of control is that as word spreads that you can just walk up to a port of entry in California and be admitted after uttering the right key words, you could see thousands, then tens of thousands trying their luck. This isn’t even in the administration’s interests, because a Mariel-style debacle would scare off timorous Republican congressmen who desperately want to sell out their consituents by voting for amnesty and increased immigration, but need political cover. So my prediction is the administration will start cracking down, at least until an amnesty passes.