Our entire nation dodged a bullet late yesterday when the Supreme Court stayed a Ninth Circuit injunction that would have caused a mass rush of caravans at our border. But had SCOTUS declined to intervene, would our government really have opened our borders during an official global pandemic just because of an illegal lower court opinion?
Here’s a rule of thumb: If the fallout from a court ruling requires the president to send troops to an international border to stem the tide of foreign nationals rushing in, that is clearly an issue over which the court has no jurisdiction.
Last Friday, following the Ninth Circuit’s announced injunction on the DHS’ “remain in Mexico” policy, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the deployment of 160 troops to the border. According to the press release, CBP would deploy 80 active-duty troops to San Diego's San Ysidro border crossing and 80 to El Paso's Paso del Norte bridge to assist agents with repelling a potential rush at the border. Warning of the “amassment of large groups in Mexico with the potential to forcibly enter the United States,” the statement said the troops would provide "military police support, engineer, and aviation support" to the customs agents manning those two ports.
According to local news in Texas, the troops have already arrived in El Paso.
This is all because of one circuit court that believes judges, not the political branches, get to decide who comes into the country, contrary to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Trump v. Hawaii. The court would have re-implemented its injunction on Wednesday if not for the intervention of the Supreme Court hours before the injunction was to take effect.
It’s self-evident that there is an eager crowd of illegal aliens waiting to rush the border in anticipation of these court rulings. It’s likely why, for the first time in 10 months, border apprehensions rose slightly in February. The numbers from Tucson are already rising as the Ninth Circuit ruled that the “remain in Mexico” policy be halted for those who will now purposely come to Arizona or California. Will this administration really allow the Ninth Circuit to restart the border crisis? Remember, the open-borders groups have many more lawsuits in the pipeline. Are we really required to open our borders until the Supreme Court steps in at each stage of this game of lawsuit whack-a-mole?
And what about the coronavirus? At a time when we are shutting off legal travel from many places, are we really going to bring in thousands from Central America and even other countries through our land border and expose our border officials to a pandemic? Is there no limit to judicial power whatsoever?
Breitbart reported in February that 1,155 Chinese nationals were caught entering illegally at our border during the first four months of the fiscal year. While CBP does follow protocols to screen them, CBP declined to answer whether these aliens are held for the duration of the incubation period to rule out that they are carrying coronavirus.
“Consistent with these existing procedures to prevent the spread of communicable disease, individuals identified with symptoms of illness are referred to CDC or local health officials for additional health screening,” said a CBP official in a statement to CR on February 26. “Border Patrol agents are reminded of proper precautionary measures to protect against communicable diseases as recommended by the CDC.”
Thus, CBP was able to confirm that these immigrants are being screened at the border, but has not answered my follow-up as to whether they are being held for the 14-day incubation period before being released with a notice to appear in court.
As Todd Bensman of the Center for Immigration Studies reports, unlike with the Central Americans, extra-continental migrants are waived into the country pending adjudication of their asylum claims. In light of Trump’s shutoff of air travel from Europe, this might change, but clearly, weeks into this epidemic, the land border was not closed to immigration requests, even from Chinese nationals.
Chinese nationals coming to our border pose numerous potential security threats. As one border agent told me last year, he never saw a Chinese national at the border who did not run from him, but upon apprehension, they almost always claim asylum. Clearly, security and espionage concerns do not trump open-borders policies, but one would think a health epidemic coming from China itself would. One would hope that, by now, these people are being turned away from entering the same way Europeans are barred from traveling here.
Aside from the concern of losing the ground Trump took in deterring Central American families, the border data shows that there is already in increase in single adult Mexicans and Central American teens traveling alone, known as Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs). These were two loopholes that were not closed under the new policies, because UACs are still waived in and Mexican nationals are obviously not a part of Mexico’s agreement to hold asylum seekers from other countries. But Trump’s complete power to shut down immigration applies to them as well. Aside from the security problems we have with UACs joining gangs, it is sheer lunacy to invite cross-border migration when our economy is melting down over coronavirus.
The amalgamation of all these factors makes this the most auspicious time for Trump to publicly and categorically vouch for his inherent authority to shut off immigration and to do so completely at the southern border. He should deploy even more soldiers and state unambiguously that no court can compel such a suicidal outcome, even if the courts had jurisdiction and were right on the merits. New caravans are already forming.
Trump is rightly shutting off travel to U.S. airports from Europe. Shouldn’t it be a no-brainer that all illegal immigration, even dressed up as asylum and “unaccompanied minors,” will be suspended at our land border as well?