The non-stop media coverage of the situation at our southern border is rife with hyperbole, misinformation and a ton of emotion. The plight of children is certainly one that grabs at the heartstrings if you have a soul and we are treated to similar iterations of the Outrage Machine every time a crisis involves them. We have seen this in the gun control debate, the debate over the fate of DACA recipients and now the increased traffic at the southern border with a corresponding increase in illegal crossings.
Good policy is never governed by emotion. It is based on a deep understanding of the complex issues that face us as a society and meaningful dialogue. It seems neither of these are possible in the current environment when people reflexively resort to the most caustic talking points and hunker down in their political encampments.
Case in point, Chuck Schumer has rejected Ted Cruz's 4-point fix for family separations saying he prefers to keep the focus on the President. It seems the Democrats are pounding the table for Trump to issue an Executive Order, which we have seen is also Easily Overturned. To think that our Congressional representatives can't agree to continue enforcement and alleviate family separation is truly depressing.
However, it is also apparent that in the desire to continue slinging mud at the other side, no one really wants to get to the root of the problem or create a comprehensive plan to address it. This means more than managing the activity on our souther border, but let's start there.
Do you know who understands the current challenges at our southern border better than any pundit or political figure? The men and women who serve on it every day and have to manage the complex picture they are given. To understand a little bit of that complexity lets hear from one.
Yes, you heard Chief Border Patrol Agent Rodney Scott say human traffickers are "recycling children to different families" in smuggling people across the border. Prior policy has made children a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card and the human smugglers are using it as such. On the front lines border security agents are called to make determinations like this all day long. And mistakes in either direction can have serious consequences.
Next he reminds us many of the children coming across the border are not the kid next door. Many have been working since they were young and are raised in countries with high levels of gang and politcal violence.
Ben Domenech at the Federalist asserts the current crisis is due to an uptick in activity among the Mexican cartels. He goes on to detail some of the evidence of corruption in our neighbor to the south by explaining 113 political candidates in Mexico have been murdered in less than a year. Some on camera, many in broad daylight and chiefly because they fought organized crime and gangs. From his panel interview:
I certainly agree with Jeff [Goldberg] when it comes to the ability of the administration to change this. But … the focus on these kids, while I certainly understand it from a media perspective, is ignoring what is really driving these factors.
Why do we have a 200 percent year over year increase in the number of people coming across? Why do we have the biggest month to month increase between February and March that we’ve seen since 2011?
And the answer to that is the activity of the Mexican cartels, who use these migrants as essentially a distraction to clog systems so they are able to funnel drugs across the border.
With the political corruption and violence in Mexico, we can't rely on them to help address the problem and the cartels profit significantly from the human trafficking routes they have developed and locked down. There is some very good reporting on the cartels and the human trafficking crisis at Breitbart Texas. While I don't use Breitbart as a source generally, Brandon Darby has been passionate about the situation at the border for years and takes the responsibility of reporting the challenges seriously.
And if you can bear to hear real stories about the tragedy that is human trafficking Erick Erickson recently interviewed both a victim and a rescuer.
So to a large degree, what we actually have at our southern border is a human trafficking problem and an organized crime problem. Families are caught up in this mess when they are forced to pay smugglers, also known as coyotes to smuggle them across. Often this is done in conditions that treat human beings like cattle. And not to engage in 'whataboutism', it is important to remember that even Barack Obama knew lax enforcement encouraged these dangerous and sometimes deadly crossings. An enlightening thread is here.
The truth is solving these problems is not easy and is going to require a multi-pronged approach. One element is foreign policy and diplomacy with our neighbors to the south that encourages them to rid their systems of corruption and violence. As long as they are crippled by these elements they can not assist us in managing the issues at hand.
Another is enforcement. Through several administrations there seems to be a common belief that lack of enforcement is an incentive for people to make the dangerous trip to and across our border. We should not create policies that encourage illegal migration as it only enriches the bad actors at a terrible human cost.
Next is processing. How do were preserve the dignity of those who are caught at our southern border without releasing people into the country? My guess from years of running continuous improvement projects in the private sector is that the Border Patrol agents and court personnel at the border could tell us exactly how to do this if anyone bothered to ask. It is up to policy makers to understand how it can be done safely and with dignity and allocate the resources to make it happen.
Finally, it is about closing down our most troublesome areas along the border. Let's send a clear message that America expects you to enter legally at a Port of Entry by surrendering yourself to a CPB agent if you intend to request amnesty. This alone would greatly alleviate the current issues in family separation and requires appropriate physical and technological barriers to entry in our most vulnerable locations. While I am not all in on a 'big, beautiful wall', the agents working the border can probably tell us what an effective system would look like and our policy makers should be asking them and giving them the resources.
Solving the problems at the border is going to real work from leaders in both the legislative and executive branch. Unfortunately we live in a moment in time when this may not even be possible. When we have a Senate Minority Leader more concerned with posturing for the mid-terms than addressing the urgent issue, activists harassing members of the cabinet out at dinner, people publishing the names of everyone on LinkedIn who works for ICE and serious calls for intimidation and even violence against everyone from Border Patrol agents to the President's son, it is impossible to solve anything.