Jessica Vaughan, director of Policy Studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, discussed immigration with Sirius XM’s Breitbart News Tonight co-hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak on Tuesday and described the Mexican government as enabling an approaching caravan of 1,500 families from Central America seeking entry into the U.S.
Vaughan described exploitation of American asylum and immigration policies as an ongoing and years-long problem.
“It has been going on since about 2012, when it really started to pick up with the numbers,” said Vaughan. “It really reached a head in about 2014 when we saw a huge influx, and that’s when Breitbart broke the story of what was going on by publishing the photographs of these kids crammed into the overwhelmed border patrol holding facilities and also families just kind of walking across–mostly women with children walking right up to border patrol agents asking to be apprehended. It has been going for a long time.”
“There have been something like well over 130,000 kids who have arrived since 2012 and probably about an equal number of families coming … over that same period of time who have been resettled by policy under the Obama administration,” continued Vaughan. “That policy had to be continued under the Trump administration for a variety of reasons. [They are] resettled in communities all across the country at enormous cost, with problems being caused by this, [including] schools not being able to handle 18-year-olds with a fourth-grade education that they’re told to educate. Some of them are gang members, and it’s been a huge problem that we have not been successful in stopping.”
Vaughan repeated a description of the “caravan” as a “walk-a-thon for open borders” she had made on Monday’s episode of Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson Tonight.
“This is a unique event, though, as it is an organized group that’s really issuing a challenge and saying that they intended to arrive in a huge number at the port of entry and demand access to the United States, fulfilling what they believe to be their human right to live wherever they want to, and where they want to live is in the United States, and that the United States has to let them in,” remarked Vaughan.
“So this is kind of a protest march for open borders. I’ve been calling it the walk-a-thon because it reminds me of this event I used to do for the March of Dimes … when I was younger, and you’d walk 25 miles to raise money against birth defects. That’s what they look like, a bunch of bedraggled people, walking and walking and walking, and this time, they say it’s for open borders.”
Vaughan described the caravan as a “stunt” whose participants are being used as “props” for “open borders” advocates while enjoying the complicity of the Mexican state.
“The organizers are doing a stunt,” Vaughan stated. “I believe that they want to show up with all these people at the border and challenge the Trump administration to say no and create a media event. I’m sure there will be plenty of TV cameras and reporters in tow to watch what happens when they get to the border, but the people who are on this march believe that they’re going to be allowed to stay in the United States if they claim asylum. They’re being told that. So they’re kind of props for this open borders statement, and the government of Mexico is letting this happen. They look the other way when these people enter Mexico illegally without visas, and they know that their destination is the United States. So they see no reason to stop them. It has the potential to create this scene at the border.”
“Luckily, the Trump administration is saying it’s time for some rain on this parade because in the past, we have allowed people claiming asylum to enter because there’s not enough detention space for them,” Vaughan explained. “Congress has not given ICE more money to keep people in custody while their asylum claims are heard, so they end up being let go, and they don’t show up for their hearings. Their hearings are scheduled years from now anyway because the immigration courts have basically slow-walked these immigration cases through, allowing people to have continuances to just put off deciding their case because most of them are not going to be qualifying for asylum. Half of them don’t even show up for their hearings at all if they’re released. In fact, the percentage is almost 80 percent for the family units, the women who show up with their kids, and they end up just adding to the illegal population here. Some of them get visas.”
Vaughan pointed to the Mexican government as partly facilitating the caravan’s mission of challenging U.S. sovereignty.
“Mexico doesn’t appear to really be breaking this so-called caravan up as much as trying to help them do this a little bit more stealthily [and] discreetly,” claimed Vaughan. “It’s clear that they’re in Mexico illegally and they’re going to try to launder their status by issuing them these transit visits so they can make their way to the United States, so they’re basically trying to scoot them along and advising them to not come in a big group but try to take advantage of our broken asylum system, to say the magic word at the border, and get released.”
Mansour asked Vaughan if Mexico’s dysfunction related to criminal cartels offers validity to the anticipated asylum claims of the caravan’s participants.
“Anyone seeking asylum based on persecution based on their race, political views, religion, or other criteria, none of which apply to this group, pretty much,” responded Vaughan. “They’re supposed to apply in the first phase country that they come to, which would be Mexico in this case, perhaps even Guatemala. … So Mexico accepts asylum seekers. We can say, ‘You should go back to Mexico and apply.’ We don’t even really owe them a hearing. They don’t have a visa to enter the United States. If they show up at the legal point of entry, we don’t have to let them in, by law.”
Vaughan highlighted the difference between America’s relationships with Canada and Mexico on the matter of asylum seekers and repatriation of foreigners.
“The agreement we have with Canada, it’s called the Safe Third Country Agreement,” Vaughan said. “People can’t asylum shop. We’ll return people that are trying to gain asylum and were turned down in another country. People can’t come through Canada to get to the United States. We’re allowed to send them back to Canada. If somebody from Pakistan tries to come to the United States via Canada, claiming asylum, we can return them to Canada and vice versa. We do need that kind of arrangement with Mexico. … If they come to the legal port of entry, we do not have to grant them admission. We can give them a fair hearing, but if we determine that their claim is not credible, then we’re under no obligation to let them into the country.”
“The majority of them are simply coming here because they are hopeful that they can get into the country and be home free,” remarked Vaughan. “They’ve been told that if they make it to the United States, that they’ll be allowed to stay. That’s why they’re coming. They also hear talk of an amnesty. They know that if they come with kids, that’s like a deportation shield. The organizers know exactly what the policies have been up to this point, and they’re hoping to take advantage of it. They’re quite clear about that.”
Mansour framed publicity around the caravan as potentially incentivizing more illegal immigration to the U.S. “I think that the scare here is that because of the publicity around this caravan, and because of the revelation of how easy it is, word keeps getting out, this is just going to be like inviting a mass wave of these things, and it’s just going to keep increasing unless we do something.”
“People have heard that they can game our asylum system, they keep trying it,” Vaughan concurred. “We’ve got to break that cycle. I think we took the first step toward doing that today when the president said the National Guard is going to be used at the border. The other thing that happens when these big groups come, that distracts the border patrol, they go off to arrest the big group and the cartels smuggle in their loads of drugs and criminals and whatever else they’re bringing over while the border patrol is busy rounding up women and children. We can’t let that happen. They need backup. There’s not enough manpower there.”
Pollak asked Vaughan about if the caravan’s organizer and participants sought to politically damage President Donald Trump. “
“They were looking to make a scene at the border and kind of dare the president not to let them in,” Vaughan speculated. “I think they want to make the president look bad for denying people their international right to live in the United States or seek refuge or asylum or something. But I don’t think it’s going to work. … I think this is a real test of the administration’s resolve, and they’re going to have to pass it for the sake of our communities. Now is the time to enforce the border, if we want to keep enforcing our immigration laws, now is the time to do it.”
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