The latest monthly Customs and Border Protection apprehension numbers – denoting a 32% increase in apprehensions from last month with more than 100,000 families or children detained – underscore the fact that we are in the midst of a refugee and humanitarian crisis. Here are three essential points to remember:
- Trump’s cruel and deterrence-only approach is failing and dramatically worsening the humanitarian and refugee crisis;
- The prime reason Trump is failing is because his approach completely misdiagnoses what’s happening – we are in the midst of a regional refugee crisis of Central Americans fleeing for their lives, and the administration’s cruel, hardline, and deterrence-only approach at the border is not responsive to the challenge;
- There’s a smarter, saner, and more effective alternative strategy that deals realistically with the refugee crisis in the region and the humanitarian crisis at the border, a strategy reflected in a pragmatic bill put forward by Senate Democrats.
According to Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice:
Trump is failing spectacularly on his signature issue and is now seeking more money from Congress to advance even more hardline deterrence-only approaches that have already been tried and failed. We need a reset; one that accurately diagnoses the problem and puts in place a response based on American competence and values, not Trumpian chaos and failure. There are clear steps to take to deal with a refugee crisis of Central Americans fleeing unspeakable violence and food insecurity, and Trump refuses to take any of those steps. Instead, Trump is threatening Mexico with tariffs that will be a tax on Americans and is taking away medicine and English classes and recreation from children in detention. Ratcheting up the cruelty won’t work when people are fleeing danger, famine, and catastrophe. We won’t turn the tide of this refugee and humanitarian crisis until we stop purposely misdiagnosing it for political purposes, and until we start working with our partners in the region to address the root causes of families fleeing the Northern Triangle.
Trump’s cruel and deterrence-only approach is failing and dramatically worsening the humanitarian and refugee crisis:
According to the Washington Post, the CBP numbers for May 2019 reflect a 182% increase from May 2018 and a 600% increase from May 2017. As DHS Watch Director Ur Jaddou said this week:
Let’s not forget that this administration inherited the lowest number of southwest border apprehensions in 46 years. We have had two years of failed, cruel, enforcement-only policies – family separation, multiple regulations, threats to close the border, the wall, military at the border, tear gas, Remain in Mexico, ending foreign aid to Central America, government shutdown, and the list goes on and on and now includes raising tariffs on Mexican goods. The result: increasing numbers of people coming to our borders in search of safety, agonizing stories of inhumanity, and deaths of children and adults in CBP detention that we haven’t seen in more than a decade.
The prime reason Trump is failing is because his approach completely misdiagnoses what’s happening – a cruel, hardline, and deterrence-only approach is irrelevant to a refugee crisis of Central Americans fleeing for their lives:
Trump and Co.’s deterrence-only policies have failed and dramatically worsened the humanitarian and refugee crisis at the border, yet they refuse to course correct or adopt a new approach like any other sane administration would. Why? In large part because Trump and his team are obsessed with Trump’s political brand on immigration and are desperately worried that the public and his nativist base will, rightfully, recognize that Trump is a failure and a hypocrite on his signature issue. And there is new polling evidence that Trump and Stephen Miller’s approach to immigration is repelling, not attracting voters.
There’s a smarter, saner, and more effective alternative vision that Senate Democrats have put forward:
Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin examining the Republican Senate approach to the border crisis, which focuses on making asylum claims more difficult to make, hold children and families in detention longer and make it easier and quicker to deport. The Republican bill was written by former immigrant champion and current Trump sycophant Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
As former Obama Domestic Policy Advisor Cecilia Muñoz recently told the Washington Post, “The bigger mistake the administration is making is assuming you can fix what’s happening at the border just with the tools available in the United States. If you just try to shut down the asylum system as much as possible and think magically that immigration will stop, that’s not how migration works.”
Senate Democrats unveiled a bill that takes a broader — and more realistic — approach to addressing the crisis that aims to address root causes of out-migration and effectively managing the flow of refugees arriving at the US border.
That effort is being lead by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and others.
Sen. Schumer spoke about it forcefully on the Senate floor yesterday:
“Many of the migrants that arrive at our southern border are fleeing untenable situations; gang violence and drug cartels, corruption, domestic abuse, and economic depravity. Their governments have failed to provide safety or security for people living within their borders. These folks feel compelled to embark on a dangerous, one-thousand-mile journey on foot rather than stay put.
“So Democrats have crafted legislation that would help address the problems in Central American countries that are causing migrants to flee in the first place. We’d allow asylum seekers to apply for asylum within their own countries. We’d provide significant security assistance to Central American countries to build their capacity to crack down on gangs, drug cartels, and human trafficking. And we’d increase the number of immigration judges to reduce the current backlog of cases at the border. These policies make eminent sense. And unlike the president’s plan to impose tariffs on Mexico, our proposals do not threaten the U.S. economy.
“When the president inevitably retreats from his tariff threat, we should proceed to these common sense policies instead.”