- - Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Far from solving anything, the ”Bipartisan Border Solutions Act” would merely fuel and perpetuate the current crisis on our southern border.

It would provide the bureaucratic “infrastructure” and funding needed to expand the federal government’s capacity to process illegal aliens and release them into the interior. Essentially, it would put the administration’s ruinous “catch and release” policies on steroids.

Introduced by Sens. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, and Kyrsten Sinema, Arizona Democrat, the bill would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish at least four permanent “regional processing centers” on the border to provide identity and criminal history checks, legal guidance, medical attention, and “credible fear” and asylum interviews to people entering the country illegally.

According to international law, migrants seeking refugee protection should seek it in the first safe country they enter. Opening these U.S. reception centers will only encourage Central American migrants to flout this concept in the law, continue the dangerous journey north and then file frivolous fear and asylum claims in their preferred designation country.

At taxpayer expense, the bill orders the Homeland Security secretary to “expand and improve the capability of the Department to conduct ground transportation of migrants.” In this expanded system, state, local, or tribal jurisdictions to which an illegal alien is being transferred may get as little as four hours advance notice. Further, these governments are not allowed to refuse the illegal immigrant.

In effect, this federally funded transportation completes the smuggling chain, making the U.S. government an active participant in human smuggling. Americans do not support President Biden’s handling of the border, but this bill would codify this administration’s policies and force Americans to pay for them.

The left continuously changes words and phrases to make illegal behavior seem lawful. Changing “illegal alien” to “noncitizen” is a prime example.

The language in this bill is a cascade of euphemisms designed to reframe mass illegal immigration as no big deal. Instead of “border crisis,” the bill introduces the term “irregular migration influx event.” And instead of “illegal immigrants,” the bill describes aliens who “do not use the formal immigration system of the U.S. or the countries they are traveling through and intend to enter the U.S.” This is blatant political doublespeak.

The bill also dangerously lowers the bar for placing unaccompanied children with sponsors. While it mandates criminal background checks for would-be sponsors of unaccompanied minors, only certain convictions and current trials would bar a person from sponsorship. Unaccompanied children could still be handed over to sponsors with nondisqualifying criminal records.

We’ve been down this road before. Tragic cases of child exploitation occurred when the Obama administration lowered sponsorship standards. Neither the current administration nor Congress should repeat such mistakes.

Strangely, the bill prohibits Health and Human Services from sharing sponsor fingerprints or DNA with Homeland Security. Forbidding such information-sharing would inhibit rigorous background checks and inevitably lead to avoidable crimes.

The bill increases the number of Border Patrol agents by 600 and adds 300 personnel to ICE. To accelerate the processing of illegal aliens into the U.S., it also adds 150 new immigration judges, 300 asylum officers, and other relevant support staff.

On top of that, it layers on more taxpayer-funded legal orientation and consultation services for illegal immigrants and carves out greater roles for nongovernmental organizations that frequently advocate for policies that support illegal immigration, more public benefits, and more federal grants. This circular business model, funded by taxpayers, should be extinguished.

The Biden administration created the current border crisis by undoing Trump-era border security and immigration measures. Rather than end the crisis by resuming the effective Migrant Protection Protocols and Asylum Cooperation Agreements, this administration seems bent on processing illegal aliens and transporting them to the interior more quickly.

The Cornyn/Sinema bill would cement the administration’s tactics into law. Lawmakers would do far better to focus on policies that would prevent the waves of illegal immigration in the first place.

• A senior research fellow for homeland security at The Heritage Foundation, Lora Ries directs the think tank’s Center for Technology Policy.

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