Border crisis beginning to bring pain home for Americans
Lines at U.S. border crossings are already increasing as hundreds of officers are pulled off duty there and redeployed to help the Border Patrol process the surge of illegal immigrants being caught sneaking into the country elsewhere.
The lines represent the first real pain many Americans will feel from the illegal immigrant crisis.
But it’s going to get worse, officials said.
A couple hundred officers have been redeployed from the ports of entry to the field, increasing the wait time for cars at El Paso, Texas, to as much as 190 minutes Friday morning. In Brownsville, the wait was 120 minutes Friday, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Both times are longer than average.
Meanwhile truck traffic at the World Trade Bridge in Laredo waited 70 minutes, which is significantly more than usual.
A senior department official said to expect those times to increase even more when they reach their full redeployment of 750 officers and the official said that number could climb even higher, to as many as 2,500 people taken from other duties at Homeland Security and sent to assist the Border Patrol.
“That’s the place that we’re in right now. That’s how severe our shortfalls are,” the official said.
Department leaders had signaled the moves earlier this week. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan announced the redeployment plan Wednesday at the border in El Paso.
The last time average Americans had the illegal immigration issue arrive on their doorstep was in 2014, during the beginning of the surge of illegal immigrant children. The Obama administration faced protests and angry town hall meetings as the children were sent to shelters across the U.S.
That furor died down.
But officials say the impact from this new surge, which involves not only children but entire families, is going to be worse.
“This will be markedly different than 2014 and people don’t realize it yet,” one senior department official told The Washington Times.
Homeland Security expects to nab more than 100,000 illegal immigrants at the border in March. Some will have come to the legal crossings demanding entry even though they lack visas. But most will sneak across the border, often in large groups and in remote areas, overwhelming the Border Patrol agents patrolling the line.
Not only are they coming in bigger numbers, but they’re also sicker.
Mr. McAleenan this week said in some areas 40 percent of his agents’ time is spent babysitting migrants as they’re being transported, or processed, or going through medical care. Agents must stay with migrants at clinics and hospitals.
That’s one reason Mr. McAleenan has redeployed the CBP officers. They can perform some of those babysitting duties, letting Border Patrol agents get back into the field.
The administration has asked Congress to change laws to allow faster deportations, which experts say would cut the pull factor drawing the large number of migrants north.
Congressional Democrats, though, blame the administration for the surge.
“The administration has no credibility to demand Congress act when it has acted in bad faith on this issue since day one,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “Democrats will not allow President Trump or his administration to continue to further his anti-immigrant, xenophobic agenda.”