While border enforcement continues to strain emotions as it’s debated in the political world, a recent surge in illegal crossing attempts has put a strain on law enforcement officers and judges to keep up, especially as the Trump administration pushes toward its “zero tolerance” goals.
Official DHS/CBP photo by Josh Denmark
Critics of the president’s firm stance on upholding America’s immigration laws and prosecuting those who break them are claiming that there’s simply no way to realistically stem the flow, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
They point to overworked judges, jam-packed holding facilities, and prosecutions that could triple. They also note that the U.S. Border Patrol in San Diego has so many people breaking into the country that it catches 120 a day but can only hand over a fraction for prosecution.
But proponents of better border security note that critics rarely mention the strain on resources that illegal aliens put when they successfully slip into the U.S., hiding from law enforcement while putting a burden on the economy and using taxpayer-funded services. Illegal aliens cost the U.S. government $134 billion a year while only contributing about $19 billion in taxes, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy quite clearly during a May 7 news conference in San Diego.
“If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple,” he declared, according to The Hill.
“If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you. And that child may be separated from you, as required by law,” he said, emphasizing the family hardships that come from trespassing in a foreign land without permission.
And according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sessions is making at least the first moves in giving border crossing courts the manpower they need after years of lax border enforcement. 18 new judges and 35 new prosecutors are on their way.
“The American people made very clear their desire to secure our border and prioritize the public safety and national security of our homeland,” Sessions said earlier this month.
Even the Migration Policy Institute admitted that prosecuting illegal border crossers was far more effective in discouraging them from making another attempt than simply sending them back. Arizona, which is more likely to prosecute than California, has seen their zero-tolerance policy result in far fewer attempts.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted that upholding U.S. law goes against American values, exclaiming that “the goal of this policy is to inflict pain and suffering on people who have already put their lives at risk. We’re better than this.”
In March and April of this year, more than 50,000 people a month tried to break into the U.S. and were either turned away or taken into custody, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That’s way up from the roughly 16,000 people a month trying to cross in March and April of last year.