The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a 16-page document calling for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to address the overcrowding and long-term detention of non-citizens at the southern border.
In the background section of the OIG report, Table 1 shows that between October 2017 and May 2018, there were 99,835 total apprehensions. That number grew by 124 percent compared to the apprehensions between October 2018 and May 2019.
The largest increase in apprehensions comes from the “Family Units” section. Between October 2017 and May 2018, there were 36,773 families apprehended. That number grew by 269 percent compared to the apprehensions between October 2018 and May 2019.
It is important to note that President Trump has been in office since 2016. The increase of apprehended individuals is not fully synced up with Trump taking office, as many have suggested.
“Reading the report, it’s impossible to conclude that conditions at CBP facilities are the result of intentional policies or procedures. The system is collapsing due to overwhelming numbers. What we are seeing is the mass failure of our entire border/immigration regime,” said The Federalist’s John Davidson. (Read Davidson’s full thread here.)
The pictures released in the OIG report are spurring politicians and activists to call for change at the southern border.
As mentioned in the OIG report, single adults should be transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody and children to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). However, these agencies are already overwhelmed with the adults and children currently in their custody.
While ICE and HHS facilities are built for long-term holding of illegal aliens, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is meant for short-term holding. As the system collapses, CBP is left to bear the brunt of the inability of ICE and HHS to take custody of more migrants, with the result that CBP must house migrants for much longer its facilities were designed.
The official OIG response to the crisis reads:
“We recognize the extraordinary challenges CBP faces, and welcome the information that DHS has been able to reduce the number of UACs in custody. However, we remain concerned that DHS is not taking sufficient measures to address prolonged detention in CBP custody among single adults. Although an addition 500 beds in the Rio Grande Valley may reduce overcrowding among single adults, DHS must transfer single adults to ICE custody as quickly as possible; within DHS, long-term detention is ICE’s responsibility.”
It is evident that there are structural issues that will require fundamental changes by legislators and the executive branch alike. However, the current structural changes proposed by Democrats are to abolish ICE—the very branch of DHS that is built for the longer-term holding of illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, 2020 presidential hopefuls such as Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bill de Blasio have called for abolishing ICE. Other left-wing progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) have urged their grassroots bases and large Twitter followings to call on their representatives to abolish ICE as well.
While policy proposals to expedite funds to the southern border have drawn attention to the problems CBP is dealing with, President Trump has taken his ideas to Twitter.
While Trump lacks some of the empathy that should be taken into account during this crisis, he brings to light a very important point—these facilities are not meant to be hospitals.
Many on the left are shouting about the facilities lacking adequate care for illegal immigrants. However, these facilities aren’t built to be a hospital for immigrants crossing over the border. They’re meant to be short-term holding facilities for individuals apprehended crossing the border illegally.
This isn’t to say that immigrants crossing the border don’t deserve adequate care, it’s to point out that changes in the structure between CBP, DHS, HHS, and ICE need to be addressed before we can complain that nothing is working.
If Democrats want to see fundamental changes in facilities on our southern border, they should work to create structural changes that can actually better the lives of illegal immigrants instead of merely exploiting them for political gain.