The US-Mexico border emergency is an 'asylum crisis' more than it is an immigration issue
President Donald Trump is pushing to close the southern border if the situation goes out of hand as over 100,000 immigrants are expected to enter the US in the month of April alone
As the U.S. federal government tries to fix a broken immigration system and work around its overpopulated nonprofit shelters along the U.S.-Mexico border, thousands of children of asylum seekers are headed to Dallas for extra accommodation.
In order to gauge the county's enthusiasm and capacity to house migrants, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is currently in talks with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins to explore housing possibilities as the shelters along the border are overwhelmed with the inundation of undocumented immigrants. In response to a letter from HHS Regional Director Fred Schuster, Jenkins said, “I let him know that we are ready, willing and able to help out these kids. I asked him to let us do our part.”
The news comes amidst rising concerns among border experts, who have projected apprehensions to rise over 100,000 in the month of April alone. According to them, the cumulative numbers of immigrants in the coming months could easily exceed 150,000 — an alarming figure to say the least.
The border crisis looks real. ICE and border patrol agents are rounding up hundreds of migrants each day under the protection of U.S. armed forces, who are lining the steel bollard fences with barbed wires. The wait times for processing migrant families have increased exponentially due to the unexpected surge of caravans, per U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. As a result, the shelters built to house these migrants are now "full."
Addressing a House committee on Wednesday, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said, “Our capacity is already severely strained, but these increases will overwhelm the system entirely. This is not a manufactured crisis. This is truly an emergency.”
Nielsen was replaced by Kevin K. McAleenan as Homeland Security director over the weekend.
Ruth Wasem, an immigration policy expert at the University of Texas at Austin, LBJ school, said, "The chaotic nature makes people panic and shows that the [immigration] system is not working. This situation raises a question: Is this crisis manufactured by design, or is it a crisis that was a result of flawed judgment?”
On March 18, Dallas resident Marsha Gordon, 66, witnessed first hand how federal officials are struggling to receive and tend to hundreds of migrants every day while volunteering at a McAllen shelter.
According to her, around 700 migrants were already present at the shelter when she arrived. However, about 1,000 more migrants, mostly families with children, arrived in the six hours she was there. She described how volunteers were frantically working to feed and clothe embattled migrants. At one point, there was a scarcity of water for the ever-increasing crowd. “You ladle soup, prepare salad," Gordon told Dallas News. "You think you’re going to have a moment to breathe and suddenly something else comes up."
Judge Jenkins said that, as of now, the prime focus is to send migrants to new shelters with teams of volunteers to aid them. However, he acknowledged the federal government is having to spend millions of dollars regularly to support relief efforts. “It’s important for the public to remember that 100 percent of the costs are borne by the federal government. They have to pay as they go,” he said.
Having said that, it is essential to grasp the gravity of the situation down south to understand possible ramifications. Speaking exclusively to Meaww, President Obama's Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan broke down the complex problem at the border.
Morgan said there were two distinct categories when it comes to illegal immigrants. "One of these categories impacts our national security, and that is bad people and bad things coming in," he told Meaww. "The other category includes good people who are trying to get into the U.S. and are claiming asylum. It is important we consider the distinction because, to some degree, there are different solutions for different categories."
The snag in our border security does not lie at the Ports of Entry, but rather the distances between them, he said. Spanning across a staggering 2,000 miles, many of these areas are wide open with virtually no barriers.
"If you speak to any border patrol experts or agents, they will tell you what they need, as part of a multi-layer strategy to secure our borders, is infrastructure, personnel, and technology in key locations along the southwest border," Morgan said. "That's the strategy. It's not complicated."
Morgan, a career FBI official, believes the United States is being severely affected by the cartel "while they get rich."
"They are pouring drugs in this country and devastating lives in the process, with over 50,000 deaths and overdoses reported in recent years," he said. "90% of the heroin that comes into this country is smuggled across the southwest border. Fentanyl is coming in large quantities among other life-threatening drugs. It has a detrimental impact on the country.
"What's more? The U.S. has unfortunately become one of the leading consumers of the human trafficking business because our weak border infrastructure enables the trade. Almost every day, the cartel smuggles young women and children across, along with other violent gang members who pass unnoticed and unapprehended."