While debate continues about what should happen to fix the nation’s immigration system, there is one thing that shouldn’t be up for debate: There is a crisis at the Mexico-United States border.
“The nation’s top border official warned that the U.S. immigration enforcement system along the nation’s southern boundary is at ‘the breaking point’ and said … that authorities are having to release migrants into the country after cursory background checks because of a crush of asylum-seeking families with children,” according to a March 27 Washington Post report.
Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said that for the first time in more than a decade, his agency is reluctantly performing direct releases of migrants; meaning they are not turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they are not detained, they are not given ankle bracelets to track their movements and they are allowed to leave with just a notice to appear in court at a later date, the Post reported.
It is very concerning that anyone would be released into the United States without due diligence.
It’s clear from the reporting at the border that there is inadequate staffing for the surge in migrants the border is experiencing.
Detention centers and Border Patrol crossings are overcrowded. The crossings are overwhelmed. The immigration court system is backed up with hundreds of thousands of cases.
McAleenan said last month that his agency detained more than 4,000 migrants in one day and was on pace to apprehend 100,000 in one month.
This is a crisis, and the concern has been echoed by Jeh Johnson, who served as President Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security secretary.
“I know that 1,000 overwhelms the system. I cannot begin to imagine what 4,000 a day looks like. So we are truly in a crisis,” Johnson said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
It is a crisis. And it’s a failure of Congress that this hasn’t been fixed. There needs to be proper staffing.
Even more, there needs to be an entire overhaul of the immigration system.
This cannot be kicked down the road again.