Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has been chipping away at the morass of non-enforcement and neglect that was Obama’s answer to border security, a policy that, oddly enough, did a lot to create the electoral wave that washed Donald Trump up to Washington, DC. One of the big things he has accomplished is that not only has he decreased the number of illegals attempting to cross our southern border, there has been a 20+% drop in the number of unaccompanied minors attempting to cross into the United States.
Of all the actions that Obama took along the border, the encouraging of unaccompanied minors to try to make it into the United States was one of the most cruel and callous. We will never know how many minors were raped, murdered, and disappeared into the sex trafficking underworlds–or how many hundreds of millions of dollars were paid to “coyotes” to guide the minors, much of which ends up in the hands of drug cartels. In April, Homeland Security began running an ad campaign in Central America to try to discourage parents from trusting their children to human traffickers.
Now the administration is taking a more aggressive posture to further deter parents who are in the US illegally from paying to have their kids smuggled into the United States.
The Trump administration has begun a new tactic to crack down on illegal immigration, this time arresting undocumented parents suspected of having paid to have their children ushered into the country by smugglers.
When unaccompanied children are apprehended at the border — often after having been taken there by smugglers — immigration officials initiate cases for their deportation, a process that can take months or years. In the meantime, many of those children are placed with parents or relatives who crossed earlier to establish a foothold in the United States and earn money to send back home.
Until recently, those adults have not been priorities for arrest, even if they are in the country illegally.
But in February, President Trump’s Homeland Security secretary, John F. Kelly, signed a memo promising to penalize people who pay smugglers to bring their children to the United States, saying that the agency had “an obligation to ensure that those who conspire to violate our immigration laws do not do so with impunity.” This past week, Jennifer D. Elzea, the deputy press secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed that arrests had begun.
The story is a little confusing and the lede here appears to conflate two different initiatives. In the past, when a minor was apprehended and a parent was located to take custody of the minor pending a deportation hearing, if the parent was illegal they were basically allowed to pick up the minor free from arrest. That policy seems to be ending. If an illegal shows up to claim another illegal, they are both going to be detained pending a deportation hearing. The second part is prosecuting parents who pay “coyotes” to smuggle their children. One assumes that to make that stick there has to be either a confession or some tangible evidence of the arrangement. Merely being the parent of an illegal minor who was caught crossing the border would not seem sufficient.
Mr. Kelly, a retired Marine general who oversaw American military operations in Central and South America from 2012 to 2016 as head of the United States Southern Command, has a longstanding interest in combating human smuggling. In April, he reiterated his vow to pursue the smugglers, many of whom extort their clients by demanding exorbitant sums, or resort to kidnapping or violence.
“There is nothing the attorney general and I want more than to put human smugglers out of business,” Mr. Kelly said in a speech at the San Ysidro border crossing in California. “And we will do everything in our power — and within the law — to end the flow of illegal migration.”
One thing is clear, the administration is working to reduce the incentives for entering into the US illegally while, at the same time, increasing the risks and the punishments. That activity may make it possible for a sane discussion on immigration policy take place.