Arizona Views: Border situation inexplicably coming apart at the seams

May 12, 2019

With all of the news about people coming into the United States illegally, the border wall projected to cost billions of dollars, and flawed detention centers for families — something is not adding up.

Let’s say: It all does not make a lot of sense to me.

First, we hear Congress say no money for a better wall. President Donald Trump declares a national emergency. Then the national media reports that the Border Patrol is not seeing as many people crossing into the US from Mexico. Members of Congress decry Trump’s move as politics and irresponsible. Some point to prior administrations’ use of emergency declarations, others claim no emergency this time.

Trump again is seeking money — this time for the border operations. So many people are seeking asylum in the US, a lack of space means some immigrants must sleep on floors in Border Patrol stations; others are held in military-style tents, The Associated Press reported.

Yes, tents — a la former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Some are coming here seeking a better life (that’s better?).

Yet, the newest tent cities — in El Paso and in the Rio Grande Valley — will hold 1,000 parents and families, expanding the Border Patrol’s capacity to hold and process the surge of immigrants, according to the AP. The tents offer bathrooms, recreation areas and sleeping quarters in air-conditioned, “soft-sided” shelters that are divided by gender and by families and children traveling alone.

How bad has it become? If that’s not enough, on April 30 alone, agents arrested about 1,100 migrants, including 424 who crossed in New Mexico, according to the Border Patrol. In March, the agency apprehended more than 100,000 illegals, including 53,000 family members.

So then there’s the price tag: $37 million for the tent cities through 2019.

That seems out of this world for such an endeavor. Though, the operation includes food, security guards (gotta keep the peace), and migrants will naturally require health care and a host of other services.

The Border Patrol also is supposed to keep people in custody for no more than three days; a Guatemalan man this week told officials he had been there for 12 days, the AP said.

Where do they go when they’re done?

That’s the clincher, folks: the situation — of so many migrants crossing into the US, overwhelming resources – has drawn agents away from their traditional duties of patrolling the border. And, the AP reported, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are “dropping large groups of immigrants at bus stations and cities,” including San Antonio, Phoenix and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Hmmm. “Eres libre de irte; por favor reportarte a tu cita en la corte en tres meses.” (You’re free to go; please report back for your court date in three months.)

Sounds like things are continuing to add up, and I am not talking about only the cost. And we don’t need a better wall? No need to increase patrols and security on the border?


Tim Wiederaenders is an editor at the Prescott Daily Courier and a former resident of Lake Havasu City.