- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen cut short a working trip to Europe to return to the U.S. to manage the border crisis, facing what one department official said Tuesday was a system “on fire.”

With some 100,000 illegal immigrants nabbed at the border in March and more caravans on the way, the administration is struggling to find options that can produce immediate results, within severe legal constraints.

“Right now the system is on fire,” a senior department official told reporters. “We are genuinely in an emergency.”

Ms. Nielsen has ordered up to 2,000 officers to transfer from the port of entry to assist Border Patrol agents, and called for sending more people back across the border into Mexico to wait while their cases wind through the U.S. immigration courts.

But President Trump is warning of more drastic action, suggesting the solution is to “close the border.”

The Homeland Security official who briefed reporters said those plans have existed for years, and could be tapped, though the department hasn’t done so yet.

“The bottom line is all options are on the table right now,” the official said.

Still, moving officers from the official border crossings is taking a toll on the border. Lines at ports of entry have grown, with Brownsville delays reaching 180 minutes, or twice the level of a year ago.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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