Guzzardi column: Congress passes toothless border bill as surge continues
Last week, 20 Democrats vying for the presidential nomination went on national television. On back-to-back nights, candidates put forward their positions on various hot-button topics. Regarding immigration, the most explosive subject and a top concern for Americans, all 20 had the same platform: the world is welcome to come to America, and don’t worry, once inside the United States, affirmative benefits will be provided compliments of American taxpayers, no matter how unwilling they may be to underwrite them.
The 20 share immigration views that are so astonishing, so cluelessly outside of mainstream opinion, that I was flabbergasted. And, just to be clear, a random selection of 20 Republicans might have the same thoughts. Tolerance for illegal immigration is too often bipartisan.
The open borders advocates are a curious group that includes seven sitting senators, three representatives, two former representatives and one former vice president. Those 13 candidates and the assembled others have one thing in common: during their careers, past and present, not one has lifted a finger to avert the border crisis against which they now collectively and furiously rail. The status quo created the border surge, and the status quo keeps it going, with no end in sight.
Also last week, Congress again proved that, when it comes to pursuing positive action to control the border, it refuses to pass legislation to restore sanity. After a series of last-minute changes were made to appease the liberal wings of the Democratic and Hispanic caucuses, the House passed a $4.5 billion border funding bill.
The bill, which the Senate originally rejected, excluded additional funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers which in effect demonstrated indifference toward the men and women who protect Americans in the course of their dangerous work to enforce immigration law.
Then, the Senate passed its own inadequate bill that included funding for ICE officers, but not for additional beds. Without more beds, immigration officials have no choice but to release asylum seekers, regardless of how bogus their claims might be, into the U.S. interior where they will likely remain forever.
Moreover, the Senate bill didn’t address the underlying causes that fuel the continued border surge, namely changing the existing laws that allow asylum abuse. As long as the 1997 Flores Settlement, which limits detention time for minor alien children to 20 days and leads to catch and release on a massive scale, and the William Wilberforce Act, that prevents the Department of Homeland Security from immediately removing unaccompanied minors from the noncontiguous countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, no changes in the immigration flow can realistically be expected.
In the end, however, after much intra-party wrangling and facing an Independence Day recess, the House ultimately passed the Senate’s version which will provide emergency humanitarian relief, but not long-term solutions.
Ironically, in recent weeks, Mexico may have done more than congressional Democrats to stem the illegal immigrant tide. Mexico has pledged to send 15,000 Army and National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Earlier, Mexico ordered 6,000 troops to its shared southern border with Guatemala.
The failure of Congress to close major loopholes like Flores and the Wilberforce Act cannot be sugarcoated. The sad but all-too-true message that the federal government sends worldwide is that it tolerates human trafficking and kidnapping, promotes dangerous passage, and is indifferent to passing laws that would end its self-imposed crisis.
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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