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Jashinsky: On Biden’s Border Giveaway To Cartels And Big Business


The following is a transcript of Federalist Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky’s “Breaking Points” monologue from March 1, 2023.

For important but under-appreciated reasons, the media thinks about immigration the wrong way. They take the narrative of the Chamber of Commerce and far-left Democrats as gospel. This is great for businesses and cartels. It’s terrible for migrants.

Why are journalists and Democrats not in absolute uproar over this video of HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra comparing migrant children to car parts? 

It’s true this video from last summer was leaked to The New York Times and published as part of an excellent exposé the paper ran on migrant children working in violation of labor laws by major corporations. But if Becerra worked for Trump, that quote would be blanketing the airwaves. It has not, to say the very least. 

And that’s wrong, because even the most charitable reading of Becerra’s quote exposes the most fundamental problem with this administration’s immigration policy. If we’re being charitable, Becerra is arguing that kids need to be moved out of detention facilities efficiently for their own safety. 

This is already a dubious argument because that efficiency, as the Times story shows, is making children less safe. 

As Hannah Dreier reported, “While H.H.S. checks on all minors by calling them a month after they begin living with their sponsors, data obtained by The Times showed that over the last two years, the agency could not reach more than 85,000 children. Overall, the agency lost immediate contact with a third of migrant children.”

Dreier added, “The federal government hires child welfare agencies to track some minors who are deemed to be at high risk. But caseworkers at those agencies said that H.H.S. regularly ignored obvious signs of labor exploitation, a characterization the agency disputed.”

According to Dreier, children calling an HHS hotline to report labor violations were never getting responses from the agency. 

Of course, there’s plenty of blame to go around. Hearthside, a company that supplied contract manufacturers for major food companies, conceded to the Times it didn’t verify worker ages through a national Social Security check at a Grand Rapids plant implicated in child labor. 

But think about that. The two biggest beneficiaries of HHS’s policy are American corporations in need of cheap labor and cartels in Mexico.

Why the cartels? As the Times reported, the children “send cash back to their families while often being in debt to their sponsors for smuggling fees, rent and living expenses.” 

Every single unaccompanied minor that crosses our border pays a cartel smuggling fee. This is really, really simple. More migration leads to more money for cartels. In most cases, they aren’t sneaking kids across the border either. They’re trafficking them up through Central America and Mexico, where they turn themselves in to authorities and begin the legal asylum process. 

So legalizing this migration would not automatically solve the problem because migrants from Central America would still need to travel through cartel-controlled Mexico, unless they could afford flights — and even if they could, you can bet cartels would try to make them pay for access to those too. This is now human trafficking as Big Business, and cartels will not give it up easily.  

The Times story is also clear that most of the 250,000 unaccompanied minors we know have crossed in the last two years are economic migrants. Central American politics were not magically more stable under Donald Trump. The surge in economic migration, as Todd Bensman says, is like a faucet. The water is always there, but it doesn’t flow from the tap until you turn it on. 

Joe Biden’s policies turned it on. This is what the media misses. Biden has incrementally expanded humanitarian parole, most recently via CBP One, to reduce the bad optics of illegal crossing numbers. So Bensman estimates about 35 percent of 150,000 monthly parolees get sent back; those odds are strong enough to draw economic migrants up to our border in staggering numbers. 

“We believe that CBP One has encouraged migration,” a Tijuana migration official told Telemundo in February. “It looks easier to have an appointment. Yes, we have seen people who arrive with that expectation.”

Shelters report being flooded and, as they will say, it’s not just because of the pandemic economy. It’s because of this administration. 

So it’s no wonder HHS is completely incapable of handling these kids safely. These are impossible numbers for any country to handle with respect and dignity to the migrants and to their own citizens. 

We do need immigration for economic reasons. We should offer as much political asylum as we safely can for moral reasons. And, yes, the U.S. historically destabilized Central America and Mexico with drugs and coups. We should help these countries and their people. 

But what’s happening now is a moral disaster fueled by the cowardice of American politicians and the ignorance of American media. They are the useful idiots of Big Business and cartels. Thousands of kids every single month are being abused on their journeys north, then entering a country where their legal future is completely uncertain and unstable, all so Democrats can claim some faux moral high ground the ignorant media is more than happy to give them. 

Our policies need to be clear, lawful, and uniform. Asylum needs to be enforced, not preemptively assumed for people whose claims are obviously dubious, at the expense of those who are real. That’s the only way to reduce the wave of economic migration that’s fueling cartel power, hurting desperate people, and devastating our bureaucracy’s ability to handle this with humanity and fairness.