DHS released border apprehension numbers for the month of May, and the numbers aren't good. Specifically, the release shows huge spikes in the number of unaccompanied children and family units attempting to cross the border illegally. Pres. Trump's tough talk on enforcement was able to slow the surge over his first year in office, but in year two, word has spread across the globe that his hands are tied when it comes to dealing with illegal border crossers unless Congress makes changes to existing law.
According to DHS data, Border Patrol apprehended 6,405 unaccompanied children and 9,485 family units attempting to enter the U.S. last month. In May 2017, only 1,493 unaccompanied children and 1,577 family units were apprehended. All told, more than 50,000 illegal border crossers were apprehended for the third straight month.
Why the sudden jump?
There are two reasons. First, despite efforts made by the Trump administration and the Department of Justice to discourage illegal border crossings, migrants know that there are special rules in place that protect unaccompanied children, family units, and asylum seekers from quick removal. Second, as Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said during an event hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies at the National Press Club on Tuesday, talk of amnesty -- like the ongoing DACA negotiations between House Republicans -- encourages more illegal immigration.
In Homan's conversation with CIS's Jessica Vaughan, he identified five actions that Congress can take to end the surge of illegal border crossings.
REFORM THE TRAFFICKING VICTIMS PROTECTION REAUTHORIZATION ACT (TVPRA) -- Commonly referred to as the William Wilberforce Act, TVPRA prohibits Border Patrol from quickly removing unaccompanied children from non-contiguous countries who attempt to cross the border illegally. UACs from Mexico and Canada can be quickly returned once Border Patrol is able to determine that they're not victims of human trafficking. But for minors from countries outside of Mexico and Canada, minors must be turned over to Health and Human Services, allowing them to stay in the country indefinitely.
REFORM THE ASYLUM PROCESS -- Under existing law, anyone apprehended at the border who makes a credible fear claim that passes the initial screening is released. Since 2008, there's been a 1700% spike in the number of credible fear claims made at the Southern border, and 80% pass the credible fear screening. However, only 20% of those who pass the credible fear screening are granted asylum by a federal judge.
MANDATE E-VERIFY -- Foreign nationals cross the border illegally because they can obtain jobs in the U.S. Homan said requiring all employers to use E-Verify would discourage most illegal immigration to the United States and dramatically reduce the number of illegal border crossings.
END SANCTUARY CITIES -- At last count, more than 300 sanctuary jurisdictions exist across the country, including California which recently passed legislation making it a sanctuary state. Jurisdictions that protect illegal aliens from removal encourages illegal border crossings because illegal aliens know they have hundreds of safe-havens to choose from once they get here.
TERMINATE FLORES AGREEMENT -- The spike in the apprehension of family units is a result of the Flores Agreement, which restricts the period of time that Border Patrol can detain family units. The Flores Agreement encourages illegal border crossers to cross with children, knowing that Border Patrol has to release them after a certain period of time. If BP were able to hold family units until their court date, family units would be less likely to cross the border illegally.
All of Homan's policy recommendations are included in Rep. Bob Goodlatte's H.R. 4760, the Securing America's Future Act, but not surprisingly, none are part of the ongoing DACA amnesty negotiations between House Republicans.
CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Deputy Director for NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, Jun 22nd 2018 @ 9:25am EDT