Chaos on the bor­der

The car­a­van ar­rives, and with it the in­evitable chaos and con­fu­sion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Afunny thing about car­a­vans. They move. In the weeks be­fore the midterm con­gres­sional elec­tions, the Democrats and the me­dia chas­tised Pres­i­dent Trump for the at­ten­tion he paid to the car­a­van of thou­sands of mi­grants mov­ing steadily from Cen­tral Amer­ica, through Mex­ico, to­ward the Amer­i­can bor­der.

“They’re two thou­sand miles away,” Joe Bi­den, the for­mer vice pres­i­dent, as­sured us. “They’re hun­dreds of miles away,” said Jim Acosta, the peren­nial sopho­more from CNN. That num­ber kept get­ting smaller, and soon the out­rid­ers of the car­a­van were at the na­tion’s doorstep, and Sun­day they were be­gin­ning to be here.

Five thou­sand of them are camped out now in Ti­juana, the Mex­i­can bor­der town just south of San Diego, much to the anger of the lo­cals, in­clud­ing the mayor, who wears a “Make Ti­juana Great Again” base­ball cap. Thou­sands more are still on the march to­ward the bor­der, where the bale­ful and tragic re­sult is play­ing out on na­tional tele­vi­sion and so­cial me­dia feeds world­wide. You might think that even a for­mer vice pres­i­dent would have rec­og­nized such an in­evitabil­ity.

On Sun­day, scores of mi­grants tried to breach the bor­der at San Ysidro cross­ing, one of the busiest cross­ings in the world. Some mi­grants threw rocks at U.S. bor­der pa­trol­men. Oth­ers tried to make a break for it with a sprint across the bor­der.

“The group breached a cou­ple sec­tions of [the bor­der wall],” says Rod­ney Scott, the chief pa­trol of­fi­cer for the re­gion. They “ac­tu­ally tore down one small sec­tion, and started to rush across.” Bor­der Pa­trol­men fired rub­ber bul­lets and tear gas pel­lets. Par­ents ran with their chil­dren for re­lief. Tear gas is very per­sua­sive. It was an ugly scene.

The Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment has ar­rested scores of car­a­van­ers who at­tempted to cross the bor­der vi­o­lently, and has pledged to de­port them to their coun­tries of ori­gin, typ­i­cally Hon­duras or El Sal­vador. Mex­ico is soon to swear in a new pres­i­dent, An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and Senor Obrador is ea­ger to show that, left­ist or not, he can get along with Mr. Trump, par­tic­u­larly on im­mi­gra­tion. Pres­i­dent Trump, for his part, has is­sued a threat to close the bor­der “per­ma­nently,” which seems un­likely given that 100,000 peo­ple cross the bor­der at San Ysidro each day.

Mi­grants wait­ing in Ti­juana are ea­ger to claim po­lit­i­cal asy­lum once they reach the United States. Such claims are cur­rently be­ing pro­cessed at San Ysidro, though at a pace that does not suit them. They say they have no choice but to break their way in.

Asy­lum claims are typ­i­cally granted to mi­grants who claim fear of per­se­cu­tion in their na­tive land, based on their race, re­li­gion, na­tion­al­ity, po­lit­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion, or mem­ber­ship in a spe­cific so­cial group. Think the Ro­hingya peo­ple in Burma, or Chris­tians in North Korea. The car­a­van­ers, by con­trast, look like less cred­i­ble can­di­dates for asy­lum. Their na­tive coun­tries are vi­o­lent and im­pov­er­ished, but that sug­gests they are eco­nomic mi­grants, not truly refugees or asy­lum seek­ers. The rules for eco­nomic mi­grants en­ter­ing the coun­try are dif­fer­ent from those who claim asy­lum.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion bears much of the re­spon­si­bil­ity for this hav­ing come to pass. That ad­min­is­tra­tion broad­ened the cat­e­gories by which mi­grants could ap­ply for asy­lum. Fear of do­mes­tic and gang vi­o­lence be­came suf­fi­cient for en­trance to the United States. This was an ob­vi­ous feint to make it eas­ier for Cen­tral Amer­i­cans to gain le­gal res­i­dency and hence cit­i­zen­ship and the vote. Even un­der Obama rules, would the United States have granted to asy­lum to a Cana­dian vic­tim of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence or a Parisian who fears the gangs that stalk his path?

Pres­i­dent Trump be­came pres­i­dent, and the United States re­turned to his­tor­i­cal prece­dent, which set out that nei­ther do­mes­tic vi­o­lence nor gang vi­o­lence alone would be suf­fi­cient cause for grant­ing asy­lum. By then, it was late. The mi­grants had learned they could gain res­i­dency by cit­ing fear of gangs or abu­sive hus­bands. They soon be­gan the long, dan­ger­ous walk to the bor­der, and the ugly scenes at San Ysidro.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.