Bor­der Pa­trol gripes of ‘child care’

Alarmed at swarm of chil­dren, fam­i­lies

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN DINAN

Bor­der Pa­trol agents have been re­duced to “pro­fes­sional child care providers” for il­le­gal im­mi­grants, warm­ing bur­ri­tos and babysit­ting the fam­i­lies and un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren who are surg­ing across the bor­der at an in­creas­ing rate, the agents’ frus­trated chief told Congress on Wed­nes­day.

Chief Mark Mor­gan, who was tapped to lead the agency in June, said he has had to pull hun­dreds of his agents from pa­trolling against drugs and il­le­gal bor­der crossers in Ari­zona and Cal­i­for­nia and shipped them to Texas, where they would be man­ning what amounts to day care hold­ing cen­ters, stock­ing baby pow­der and plac­ing req­ui­si­tion or­ders for baby wipes.

“Agents, one of their jobs dur­ing the day, is to make sure the bur­ri­tos that are be­ing pro­vided are be­ing warmed prop­erly,” he told the Se­nate Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee.

“It re­ally is child care pro­fes­sional stuff that we’re do­ing: cloth­ing them, feed­ing them, mak­ing sure that they get the med­i­cal at­ten­tion, mak­ing sure that they’re able to sleep, mak­ing sure that they get ap­pro­pri­ate meals dur­ing the day, make sure they have snacks, that meals are warm,” he said.

Con­tra­dict­ing his po­lit­i­cal bosses, Chief Mor­gan said lax U.S. poli­cies are en­cour­ag­ing the lat­est surge from Central Amer­ica and that a tougher pol­icy of fast de­por­ta­tions could cut the rate.

At the same time, Home­land Se­cu­rity

Sec­re­tary Jeh John­son was dis­put­ing his sub­or­di­nate’s read on the sit­u­a­tion, say­ing the rise in il­le­gal im­mi­grants stems from push fac­tors — vi­o­lence and de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tions.

“Ex­pe­ri­ence shows that you can build more walls and you can put more bor­der se­cu­rity on the south­west bor­der, but you’ve got to ad­dress the un­der­ly­ing cir­cum­stances in Gu­atemala, Hon­duras, and El Sal­vador that mo­ti­vate a 7-year-old child to tran­sit the en­tire length of Mex­ico, come to the United States for a bet­ter life,” he said at a fo­rum spon­sored by the Bi­par­ti­san Pol­icy Cen­ter. “Un­til we start ad­dress­ing those un­der­ly­ing con­di­tions … and un­til we build out the al­ter­na­tive safe le­gal paths for peo­ple to come to this coun­try, we’re go­ing to con­tinue to deal with this prob­lem.”

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has strug­gled to han­dle the surge of 68,445 peo­ple trav­el­ing as fam­i­lies and an­other 68,541 un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren — those trav­el­ing with­out par­ents — jump­ing the U.S. bor­der in 2014. The num­bers dipped in 2015 but surged back in fis­cal year 2016, with 59,692 un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nors and a record 77,674 fam­ily mem­bers.

In Oc­to­ber, the first month of fis­cal year 2017, some 13,124 fam­ily mem­bers and 6,754 un­ac­com­pa­nied chil­dren were nabbed.

Some of the sto­ries of those who have crossed are heart-rend­ing.

Sen. Thomas R. Carper, Delaware Demo­crat, said he en­coun­tered a Gu­atemalan boy in his home state who fled with his sis­ter af­ter en­coun­ter­ing a gang back home. The teenager at first re­sisted join­ing but was told some­one in his fam­ily would be killed if he re­fused, so he joined.

He balked when he was told that his ini­ti­a­tion would be to rape his 13-year-old sis­ter. That was when his par­ents de­cided to send both of them to the U.S., Mr. Carper said.

“The rea­son why they have the kind of vi­o­lence down there is in large part be­cause of us, be­cause of our ad­dic­tion to drugs and the flow of the drugs through those na­tions, and to come to our borders, we send them guns and money,” he said.

Chief Mor­gan said those are the kinds of cases that de­serve spe­cial hu­man­i­tar­ian re­lief. But he said too many il­le­gal im­mi­grants have learned to game the U.S. sys­tem by us­ing code words and, ac­cord­ing to in­tel­li­gence an­a­lysts, fab­ri­cat­ing sto­ries to gain le­nient treat­ment. Smug­glers teach the mi­grants what to say, Chief Mor­gan said.

“We know that they’re coach­ing in­di­vid­u­als on specif­i­cally what to say when they come here. They just rat­tle off and they mem­o­rize the magic words that they need to say so they’ll fall within the statute of cred­i­ble fear,” the chief said.

He said the way to stem the flow is to con­vince would-be mi­grants that they will be stopped and de­ported — what he called a “con­se­quence de­liv­ery sys­tem.”

“The re­al­ity is they come to the borders and they are be­ing re­leased. What that does is it sends a strong mes­sage to those folks in the coun­try that if you get to the United States bor­der, we’re go­ing to let you in,” he said.

He said “ba­si­cally 100 per­cent” of the chil­dren and fam­i­lies his agents are catch­ing are be­ing re­leased into the U.S.

Im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, per­haps more than any other is­sue, is likely to change as Pres­i­dent Obama hands over power to Don­ald Trump.

Dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign, Mr. Trump promised a crack­down on il­le­gal im­mi­grants and said he would build a bor­der wall and make Mex­ico foot the bill.

Chief Mor­gan said fenc­ing does help stem the flow of peo­ple and has freed up 100 agents to be de­ployed else­where in San Diego.

“Do we need more fenc­ing? Yes. Does it work? Yes. Do we need it ev­ery­where? No. Is it the sole an­swer? No. It’s part of an over­all mul­ti­lay­ered strat­egy,” he said. “The fence is great, but if we don’t have ac­cess roads to get to the fence, it’s not as good.”

On Wed­nes­day, Rep. Michael T. McCaul, a Texas Repub­li­can who is ad­vis­ing the Trump tran­si­tion team and is in the run­ning to be home­land se­cu­rity sec­re­tary, said tran­si­tion of­fi­cials are con­sid­er­ing us­ing the threat of rene­go­ti­at­ing the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment to force Mex­ico to do more to stop the surge of il­le­gal mi­grants.

“I met with the Mex­i­can am­bas­sador, and he wanted me to send the mes­sage that we have a shared in­ter­est in se­cur­ing the bor­der,” Mr. McCaul said at the fo­rum with Mr. John­son. “I do think with the NAFTA dis­cus­sions that will take place that there’s lever­age to get them to, as Jeh men­tioned, se­cure their south­ern bor­der. It’s a choke point, ge­o­graph­i­cally very small, and that would ac­tu­ally stop a lot of flow from Central Amer­ica.”

In­ter­nal Bor­der Pa­trol doc­u­ments re­viewed by The Wash­ing­ton Times show Mex­i­can of­fi­cials are help­ing some il­le­gal im­mi­grants reach the U.S. Thou­sands of Haitians who have been liv­ing in Brazil and Chile since the 2010 earth­quake in their home coun­try have streamed north this year, and Mex­i­can au­thor­i­ties is­sue them 20-day travel per­mits — enough time to cross from south to north and reach the U.S. bor­der, where they can de­mand asy­lum.

The Mex­i­can Em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment Wed­nes­day about the threat to use NAFTA to wring con­ces­sions out of the govern­ment there.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

SOUTH­ERN HOS­PI­TAL­ITY: De­tained chil­dren line up in the cafe­te­ria at the Karnes County Res­i­den­tial Cen­ter, a tem­po­rary home for il­le­gal im­mi­grant women and chil­dren in Texas.

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