When the Border Became a Crisis

When the Border Became a Crisis

By Chief Joel F. Shults, Ed.D

It might be interesting to note that the first use of the phrase “border crisis” that I can find was in 2014 during the Obama administration. What’s even more interesting is that law enforcement, especially the border states as well as federal agencies were making big noises about criminal enterprises associated with unauthorized border crossings long before it entered into national Presidential politics.

The border crisis is a white-hot issue now with increasing concern about crime associated with the flood of border crossings. This is not an alarmist article about random crimes committed by persons who entered the U.S. unlawfully. That’s not to discount the tragic crimes committed by individuals who have squandered their presence in the land of opportunity by committing violence, but the risk of being murdered, sexually assaulted, or beaten still lies, sadly, with people that the victims know and love. What is more terrifying and destructive are the gangs and terrorists who aren’t merely crossing the border but are invading and infiltrating for crime and chaos.

In 2008 a number of government publications sounded the alarm that organized criminal gangs were exploiting the weak U.S./Mexican border. Concern about immigration laws and enforcement ebbed and flowed depending on all those complex factors that influence the number and types of persons wanting into the U.S. Economic and political failures in countries throughout Central and South America are a primary driver, as well as the employment situation on this side of the Rio Grande. What made the issue white-hot during the Biden administration was when Texas and Florida introduced immigrants to northern cities, some of whom proudly proclaimed themselves a sanctuary from federal law for migrants.

According to a February 2024 Rand report :

“The volume of migrants arriving at the border without prior authorization—a historic high of 3.2 million encounters in fiscal year 2023—is indeed record-breaking. Migrants now hail from a greater diversity of countries than in the past and consist of more families and children. Court dates for asylum cases are, on average, more than four years out in the future, and even longer for final decisions. Over 3 million cases were pending before immigration courts near the end of 2023, with the backlog growing by 1 million since 2022. New York’s mayor estimates that the city will pay $4.6 billion this year to pay for migrants’ care. Other public services struggle to meet demand. Our RAND study found that, while federal law guarantees public education to all children regardless of immigration status, many schools struggle with resources to meet these responsibilities. By way of example, from FY2017 through FY2019, Los Angeles County and Harris County (which includes Houston) together received 50,000 new students.”

It is this overwhelming of resources that criminal gangs and terrorists find too easy to exploit. A 2008 report from the U.S. Attorney General’s office cited violent criminal gangs as well as cyber and white-collar criminals. Money fuels the drug trade, human trafficking, money laundering, and property theft. Violence has literally bled over from violent conflicts in Mexico to US locations where MS-13 and, more recently Venezuelan gangs, with assassinations, disfigurement including beheadings, torture, and kidnapping as well as the “wolfpack” shoplifting attacks on retailers that have shut down some businesses with big losses and lax prosecution.

Another frightening reality of gangs is their active recruitment efforts of young people. As many homegrown gangs know, juveniles face lesser penalties and great leniency and therefore are less risky to the organization for carrying guns and drugs.  Simon Hankinson, a Heritage Foundation researcher says “One study of recidivism showed that within 10 years, around 80% of criminals reoffended, and those who did averaged 5.4 arrests each during that time. This doesn’t include the very real threat of international terrorist infiltration that can attack critical targets such as the power grid and other infrastructure.

Even assuming average prevailing rates of criminality among illegal aliens released at the border, let alone greater rates due to criminals knowingly coming here for opportunity or to flee justice, we’re in for a sustained wave of crime. U.S. cities and towns will experience additional cases, from shoplifting to murder, that could have been prevented if our borders had been secure.’

America is known for fairness and compassion. We don’t want to lose these values in the effort to deal with waves of immigration, but to fail to regain control of our borders (Canada, too) we have extended the welcome mat to those who come not with aspirations for a better life, but to destroy the things we hold dear.