When media elites at National Public Radio think the country’s borders are too porous, it’s clear that a consensus is emerging to tighten immigration enforcement.
On Monday, NPR aired a segment on the federal immigration court in Harlingen, Texas, where 98 percent of the defendants never show up. The segment highlighted the court’s role in the government’s “other than Mexican” loophole, which allows the vast majority of non-Mexican nationals caught crossing our borders illegally to go free.
Each morning, Federal Immigration Judge William Peterson presides over an empty courtroom, reads charges against people who aren’t there and orders them to be deported. Judge Peterson can’t do anything to fix this broken state of affairs; his court is a cog in the wheel of the government’s “catch and release” policy where illegals are rubber-stamped into the country.
If Judge Peterson’s court handled only Mexicans looking for jobs, the problem would be bad enough. But about one of every eight illegals whose papers reach Judge Peterson’s court are not Mexican. Most are from other Latin American countries, but some come from the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia, among others. Of the estimated 465,000 fugitive absconders currently living in the United States, 71,000 are thought to be “other than Mexican” — among whom terrorists lurk.
The number of “other than Mexican” illegals is rising. As The Washington Times reported last month, Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar said federal agents in Texas have detected a threefold increase in non-Mexican numbers this year. The U.S. Border Patrol had detained 98,000 non-Mexican nationals across the country by early June, but about 70 percent of them were released immediately owing to lack of detention facilities.
When the illegal “other than Mexican” defendants are released immediately and then don’t show up for immigration court, it’s hard to deport them, obviously. What makes it even harder is that according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau, it takes 89 days to order them deported. It’s anyone’s guess what these illegals do during the 89 days it takes to order them deported and after. No doubt some of them are plotting ill against the United States.
All this is yet another reminder that the federal government’s immigration system is broken. Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, and Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, are expected to introduce new fugitive absconder legislation later this summer. The bill provides an excellent opportunity to begin solving the country’s border woes. If it can end Kafkaesque scenes like Judge Peterson’s court without defendants, it will be a major success.