A Collective Approach to Repairing America’s Immigration System

By James Jay Carafano

A reasonable plan would pair cost-effective border security measures and regional cooperation with robust enforcement that ends the practice of “catch and release.” These are the needed pieces:

Regain operational control of border . That requires all the people and parts needed for border security —a system that welds all of the nation’s border assets into a single coherent security enterprise including key investments in border infrastructure (read wall), staffing, technology, and support resources.

Safeguard the sea . If those bent on entering our country illegally can’t get across by land, then they’ll come by sea. We need a robust Coast Guard that’s up to the task. The service needs more money to get the right mix of vessels, including Fast Response Cutters, Offshore Patrol Cutters and unmanned aerial systems.

End catch and release . Homeland Security needs more detention capacity, and Congress needs to pass laws that end the requirement to release people caught crossing the border illegally. Many legal loopholes should be closed to stop illegal immigration and help those with legitimate asylum claims. For example, Congress should reject the judicially mandated Flores settlement so that children are allowed to remain with their parents while awaiting asylum adjudication or prosecution for violating immigration law. Moreover, about 90 percent of asylum claims are rejected, yet virtually no one denied asylum reports for deportation. This, too, must stop.

Partner with the region . The United States needs to work the other side of the border, as well. International cooperation is needed to combat transnational criminal networks and gangs, discourage illegal migration, improve border security and public safety, and strengthen Latin American economies and civil societies. The Trump administration and Mexico are already working on “ creative solutions to deal with Central American migrants while their asylum claims are processed.” There is no reason why the United States can’t build on this cooperation to develop the right package for partnering with Mexico and Central America in dealing with security and humanitarian crises that affects us all.

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