by Washington Examiner | July 16, 2019 10:44 PM
This week, the Trump administration continued its efforts to bring order to the southern border by imposing new rules on the asylum-seeking process. This is what was needed.
On Monday, the departments of Justice and Homeland Security announced that migrants wanting to claim asylum in the U.S. must first do so in either their home country or another country before coming to the U.S. Under the new rule, anyone who crosses illegally into the U.S. to claim asylum, without having already applied from outside, would be ineligible.
Word has gotten out south of Texas that anyone hoping to flee violence or poverty in their own country need touch American soil, find a Border Patrol agent, and turn oneself in, requesting asylum. The vast majority of migrants who do this are breaking the law when they float the short distance across the Rio Grande and come ashore without authorization. But that crime is effectively canceled out the moment they say “asylum.” Moreover, 90% of the time, the asylum claim, no matter how frivolous, grants them the right to remain in the country while they await a court hearing that may not come for up to five years.
That is an abuse of American generosity intended to offer refuge for people abroad genuinely fearing for their lives and persecuted by their governments.
We understand why these men and women from Latin America want to be in the U.S. Ours is the land of opportunity, and many of our neighbor countries lack the capitalist economies and robust property rights needed to provide such opportunity.
But the asylum law was not supposed to be an invitation to unlimited economic migration. But that is how the law is currently functioning, with Central Americans making their way here by the tens of thousands every month. They have learned exactly how to push the system’s buttons in order to secure long-term permission to be inside the U.S., and this is why detention centers near the border are overflowing.
Congress has shown no sense of urgency to fix the problem. Democrats oppose every measure to halt or even reduce the gush of migrants crossing into the U.S., many of them deathly ill from the arduous, 2,000-mile journey from their home countries.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the administration’s new directive violates the law and will be “swiftly and successfully challenged in court.” This, even though just last week the California Democrat signaled that she could support “initiatives” that would more or less do what the new rule does.
At a press conference on Thursday, Pelosi said, “There are some initiatives that suggest that some review of asylum-seekers’ status could be done in [their] country instead of traveling here, and that’s one thing that I think would be appealing to the administration.” She even said that it wouldn’t be a matter of having to “change the law.” This makes her new objections seem puzzling.
The White House has issued other rules for asylum-seekers crossing illegally into the U.S., such as requiring them to pay a fee and denying them work permits until their claim is approved. Some of the new directives are already in effect and some are not. Even so, it is important that the administration take every action it can to stop this law’s abuse, at least until the flow at the border reaches a manageable level.
There are too many people coming into the country at once seeking refuge. It’s straining the resources of the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It has created a crisis at the border, and it is literally putting more lives in danger. We have long called on Trump to take action on this within the law and to get Congress involved as much as he can. This action is a step in the right direction.