I am not anti-immigration, and I am certainly not anti-immigrant, but Trump Hate is clouding the position that the media and the Democrats are taking on the Central American “immigrant caravan” and the resulting border crisis.
The position of the Left is going to empower Trump and his supporters. This is the primary issue he ran on in 2016, and he did it by creating ominous visuals of a crisis that didn’t then exist. Now it’s real, and it’s spectacular.
Seventy-five hundred immigrants are attempting to enter California and require the State of California and the United States government to house and feed them while they await the outcome of their asylum claims. At the same time, California is in the midst of its own crisis of recovering from the wildfires and the threat of further damage and displacement from mudslides and other lingering effects of that disaster.
The vast majority of reporting, as far as I can tell, characterizes the immigrants as “refugees” seeking asylum in the United States. The problem is, the vast majority of these immigrants are not refugees according to U.S. law. The law isn’t a “Trump law,” or any contrived policy decision of the Trump Administration. The definition is a settled matter of U.S. Law.
According to the 1992 U.S. Supreme Court Decision United States v. Elias-Zacarias, Section 208(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U. S. C. § 1158(a), authorizes the Attorney General, in his discretion, to grant asylum to an alien who is a “refugee” as defined in the Act, i.e., an alien who is unable or unwilling to return to his home country “because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” § 101(a)(42)(A), 8 U. S. C. § 1101(a)(42)(A). See United States v. Elias-Zacarias 502 U.S. 478 (1992).
Elias-Zacarias is no remote decision that has to be bent to this argument. It actually involved an immigrant from Guatemala who fled because he was being recruited by a guerrilla organization. He left to seek asylum in the U.S., because he feared that the group would retaliate against him and his family if he didn’t join. The Supreme Court, correctly in my opinion, ruled that he didn’t fit the definition of a “refugee” under the act, and as a result, he had to immigrate through other legal means. He entered through a visa lottery and became a citizen in 2006. (See article below).
If history is any indication (as it usually is), only about 10% of these immigrants have legitimate claims to asylum. See this NPR article. According to most reports I have read, most of these immigrants have left their countries fleeing crime and poverty. There are literally billions of people on earth who could make an asylum claim on that basis. If we were to just fling open the gates, especially in a situation such as this where the immigrants contrive the crisis by coming in mass and trying to force the hand of our government, we would all suffer eventually.
As to Trump, he did make the unusual decision to block the immigrants at the border, but this isn’t a normal situation. Without a doubt, he made a travesty of the last “border crisis” by separating families, but there have to be rules. Our country is more open to the oppressed and downtrodden than any other country on earth. It always has been, and it should be. That doesn’t mean we throw out the rule of law. Immigrants have to be made to enter legally, seek work visas, and apply for citizenship on legal terms to make it fair for everyone in similar circumstances and to our own citizens.