- - Monday, April 1, 2019

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong,” observed H.L. Mencken, the sage of Baltimore who was the most popular social critic of the previous century. Sadly, Mencken isn’t around to address the scourge of the 21st century, the obstinate refusal of Democrats to admit that there is an obvious problem, complex or otherwise. The liberals who call themselves “progressives” pretend not to notice the relentless stream of humanity trying to force their way across America’s southern border.

With one voice, the Democrats led by Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have for months called the mass migration of peoples from Latin America northward nothing more than a “manufactured crisis.” Joined by a few foolish Republicans, they have done their best to thwart President Trump’s efforts to enforce border security. Last week they fell short, fortunately, of overriding his veto of their resolution to block a declaration of the obvious national emergency. “Emergency,” for those who, like the speaker and the Senate minority leader, sometimes struggle with English as their native language, is defined by Merriam-Webster as “an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action,” or alternatively, “an urgent need for assistance or relief.”

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reported recently that her department was on track to finish the month of March with 100,000 apprehensions of illegal immigrants. “Apprehensions” is a loose term. Currently, many immigrants are not apprehended but once across the border, go looking for U.S border agents. Migrants grouped as families with children know that authorities must transport them to processing centers that are too overwhelmed to hold them for long.

The region around Yuma, Arizona, for one, has reached the “breaking point,” and U.S. Border Patrol officials announced last week that overcrowding has forced them to begin simply releasing immigrant families onto the streets of Yuma. “U.S. Border Patrol processing centers are not designed to house the current numbers of families and small children that we are encountering,” the agency said.

For most, release from custody with a notice to appear for an immigration hearing at a later date means never having to leave U.S. soil. The illegals have learned there are no consequences for dropping such notices in a trash bin. After meeting with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, tweeted: “Since September 2018, 92% of the 6,000 family members detained fail to appear at their deportation hearing. The system is broken and overwhelmed. It is a national emergency!”

Further, Sen. Graham says the March trend for illegal entry will result in an annual total of 1.2 million. If those 1.2 million had formed a human chain starting in Dallas, the last person in the chain to arrive could use his free hand to push a crosswalk button in downtown Chicago.

The figures cited by the senator could be on the low side. Statistics compiled by Breitbart News put the number of illegals expected to enter the United States this year closer to 1.5 million. They include an estimated 434,000 forecast to be freed in accordance with the Department of Homeland Security’s catch-and-release policy. Researchers predict that 500,000 will cross the southern border undetected. Another 630,000 foreign visitors are expected to overstay their visas.

Americans have always had a generous heart for the deserving and underprivileged and have always redoubled their generosity in response to the scale of human need at hand. In Yuma, service organizations have stepped forward, as they should, to assist the foreign visitors left abandoned on their streets. But most Americans are not foolishly naive, and understand that hidden among genuine refugees are drug mules, sex traffickers and common criminals looking to breach the border to ply a dirty trade.

Over the horizon in Honduras, according to reliable accounts, “the mother of all caravans” is now forming. As many as 20,000 migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are expected to push north soon, prompting the vow by President Trump to cut aid to those nations. Jeh Johnson, who was secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration, said last week that the system cannot handle 1,000 daily apprehensions, let alone tens of thousands. “By anyone’s definition, by any measure,” he says, “we have a crisis on the border.” (In other words, an “emergency.”)

The president must follow through, if need be, to close the border. No matter how generous America might want to be, it cannot surrender its immigration policies to foreign visitors. Expanding chaos is the correct alternative.

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