At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) talked with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday about the crisis of unaccompanied minor aliens being shipped to the United States from Central and South America. Cruz did a fantastic job of outlining what he called the “staggering” humanitarian crisis at the border. Apprehensions of these minors at the border have basically been doubling every year since 2011… but this year they’ll blast into the stratosphere, jumping from 24,000 to as many as 90,000, according to DHS estimates.
As Cruz made clear, there’s no mystery about why this is happening. It’s a direct consequence of President Obama’s policies, specifically DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. I continue to be honestly baffled that anyone can try to deny this – it’s the clearest cause-and-effect relationship of modern times, buttressed by copious testimony from the new arrivals, who are quite clear about why they made the long and perilous journey to the United States. They have every reason to believe some flavor of citizenship will be theirs for the taking, in the very near future.
“Is it really your testimony that granting amnesty to some 800,000 people who came here illegally as children had no effect in causing a dramatic increase of children being handed over to international drug cartels to be smuggled in here illegally?” Cruz asked Johnson, referring to the results of President Obama’s unilateral action. Johnson’s answer is absurd, and Cruz dispenses with it very efficiently. No, of course these people aren’t up to speed on every sub-paragraph of President Obama’s executive orders, or the “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation pinballing through Congress. They don’t know that sub-paragraph 6b of section 46-009 says amnesty is only available to minor aliens who were already on American soil as of such-and-such a date. And frankly, even if they did know, they have every reason to believe those restrictions will be waived to accommodate them.
That’s one of the strangest things about the comprehensive immigration reform debate: why would anyone, within the United States or beyond our borders, assume that whatever citizenship giveaway chugs out of Congress would be followed by some kind of crackdown on illegal immigration? That’s not how it worked last time, or the time before that. No close observer of the American political scene can detect any forces likely to compel tight border security and internal law enforcement following the next amnesty deal. And if you’re a desperate family living under the constant threat of murder at the hands of drug cartels or corrupt governments, you’re probably not reading The Hill on a daily basis to pick up the subtle signals emanating from various congressional factions.
The humanitarian crisis on our border is a direct consequence of irresponsible immigration policy. As Cruz pointed out, these unaccompanied minors did not arrive in Texas after a placid stroll across the southern hemisphere. “Little boys and little girls, their parent are handing them over not to some noble social worker trying to help them,” said Cruz. “They are handing them over to international, global criminal cartels that smuggle human beings in. They put kids, among other places, on top of fast-moving freight trains. They are criminals who sexually assault, and sometimes murder these children. These are little girls that are sometimes being sold into prostitution and sex slavery.”
Critics of these immigration reform proposals often speak of the burden placed on the American taxpayer, the national security risks that come from letting so many people flood across the border (quite a few of them disposed to further violations, after they’ve defied U.S. immigration law) and the unfairness to those who did the hard work of immigrating legally. But as Cruz pointed out, it’s brutal to the illegal aliens themselves, who have something in common with American citizens: they’ve been suckered by unrealistic promises from opportunistic politicians.
I’ve written of my belief that some of the people who engineered this unaccompanied-minor crisis are pleased with the results. They want to overload the system, and checkmate amnesty opponents by creating demand for citizenship from young refugees who are not easily refused. I find it increasingly difficult to believe that anyone with the slightest capacity for critical thinking would be honestly surprised by these developments, as an “unexpected consequence” of advertising a fire sale on citizenship. But either way, it has to stop, because what we’re seeing today is just a taste of things to come.