• 48°

The immigration crisis

It could not have been bungled more completely than the Trump administration has bungled our southern border immigration.

The Trump administration has managed, in just two short years, to take southern border crossings into the U.S. from 62,000 in 2016, Obama’s last year in the White House, to 109,000 in April of this year alone.

How did this president take his number one issue and manage it so poorly?

It was with a combination of intent and bad policy. The president, who got elected on the immigration issue and his promise of a 2,000-mile 30-foot-high border wall, built and paid for by Mexico, has managed to increase the problem by a magnitude of a thousand.

Let’s start at the beginning: Donald Trump is a xenophobe, and his intent is to eliminate all the entries of poor, brown-skinned people from our southern border.

Trump’s posture towards families seeking to claim asylum is to deter them by walls, our military guarding the border, detention, and the separation of families.

The Trump administration has witnessed migrant children dying in U.S. custody, families unable to ever find their children once in the hands of the Border Patrol.

And, in the administrations’ never-ending desire to make the hardship of these people even greater, it has announced it will discontinue recreational funding for the thousands of children now in custody.

The president has tried to charge the poorest people on the planet a fee to apply for asylum, but the courts denied him. Then the president demanded asylum seekers enter only through our ports, but that failed.

The president sorely needed more administrative judges to advance asylum seeker cases through the courts but has refused to hire those judges.

The president seeks authority to hold asylum seekers, and their children, for endless periods of time in the border jails, now expanding into detention camps, and those camps looking more and more permanent.

So where did Trump go wrong? He was addressing the wrong problem all the time and still is.

Trump took the problem to be single men sneaking into the country by the dark of night to commit crimes and attack Americans. It made for good campaign speeches and he may have believed it himself. But the facts are quite different.

The facts are that the families seeking asylum are largely from Central America, from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, where poverty, gangs and the breakdown of laws have created a humanitarian crisis. And instead of single men hiding from the Border Patrol, we have families with children approaching the Border Patrol seeking asylum.

What the administration should do is, first of all, stop viewing immigration of something that punitive measures can resolve.

We cannot make asylum seekers suffer more from seeking asylum than surviving where lawlessness rules. But that can only begin when the mindset of this president adjusts to the reality that these families deserve our compassion, not our prisons.

The Democrats have proposed a workable package of solutions and are willing to vote for additional funding to enact those solutions. But Democrats are unwilling to fund any more Trumpian punitive methods or long-term camps. That is simply not the American way.

Democrats offer support for more immigration judges to streamline asylum applications, new methods of tracking asylum seekers in the U.S. while they await case resolution, more aid to Central American nations struggling with civil unrest, Allowing asylum seekers to make application from their home countries and additional funding to protect migrant children from gangs.

We can fix the immigration problems on the Southern border, but not with walls, not with long-term detentions (prisons without due process) and not with abuse of families seeking nothing more than a better life.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State.