Arizona -- Front line of the Immigration Battle
In pushing its immigration agenda, the Obama Administration has encouraged thousands of Central American families and unaccompanied children to come to the U.S. illegally The president and others in his administration have tried to spin this recent influx of immigrants as a humanitarian effort to help those fleeing violence, murders, and extortion from criminal gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Yet, how humanitarian is it to drop off numerous unaccompanied children at an Arizona warehouse, or release them into an unknown territory where they can possibly become the victims of predators? American Thinker interviewed Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ) and other Arizonians to comment on this continuing crisis.
Everyone interviewed agreed that they would recommend that the president might need to build a bigger moat. They refer to his remarks made in May 2011 during the El Paso immigration speech, “So, we have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. But even though we’ve answered these concerns, I suspect there will be those who will try to move the goal posts one more time. They’ll say we need to triple the border patrol. Or quadruple the border patrol. They’ll say we need a higher fence to support reform. Maybe they’ll say we need a moat. Or alligators in the moat. They’ll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That’s politics. But the truth is, the measures we’ve put in place are getting results.”
It is true that this administration has now demonstrated results, which are the direct opposite of what they have espoused for years. Governor Brewer blames the Obama Administration, believing that they had a plan to willingly not enforce the immigration laws. She has started a petition for people to sign showing their support for border security.
Although she has a good working relationship with the current Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, Brewer is still the face and voice for those opposing illegal immigration. “I told the Secretary we should have put all this money spent to secure the borders. The Federal government has failed Americans and never wanted to enforce the rules of law. This recent influx is because the federal government never wanted to stem it. As early as last January Homeland Security began preparing to transport 65,000 unaccompanied alien children out of Texas when it was soliciting bids from vendors to transport and move all these children. They knew about this early on and made no attempt in securing the borders, stopping this influx, and holding the nations of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador responsible. We should be cutting off any funding to these countries until they act. Mexico should step up and not let them through. Yet, I was told it’s not ‘legal’ for them to do that. I thought ‘are you kidding me?’ Every time I went to Mexico I had to have a visa and birth certificate. They would not allow anyone to live there unless they can prove they have the income to survive or are gainfully employed.”
Although everyone interviewed has sympathy for the children, they feel this crisis happened because of the failed Obama policies. Retired Air Force Colonel Martha McSally (R), who is running against Ron Barber for Gabby Giffords’ former seat, believes this latest crisis represents a national security threat and a public safety issue. “If toddlers can make it across the border why can’t drug cartels or someone who wants to do harm to America? The Obama Administration says these illegal immigrants will not be allowed to stay, but that is inaccurate. This did not happen overnight and this administration should have seen it coming. It is a stark reminder that the border is not secure and is due to the incompetence and dereliction of duty by this administration.”
Ethan Orr, a Republican Arizona state legislator, is horrified at the lack of transparency by the Obama Administration. “There are so many unknowns. Immigration officials have released a large number of women with children who crossed the border illegally into Texas, dropping them off at Greyhound bus stations in Phoenix and Tucson with the expectation that they will report back within 15 days. Officials have declined to say how many have reported back. The reality is we will probably never see these people again. What about those being held in the warehouses: are there any criminals, or does anyone have any health issues? A couple of weeks ago Arizona’s Speaker of the House, Majority Whip, and media were denied access. This is like the keystone cops, where there was no advance communication with our state government. The Federal government had created this crisis and is forcing it on Arizonians.”
The administration continues talking about the humanitarian reasons these children came to America. Yet, aren't there humanitarian crises going on all over the world? What about the non-humanitarian way these illegal immigrants are treated in the U.S.? Governor Brewer has been warning for years about the harsh treatment of illegal immigrants. In her book, Scorpions for Breakfast, she wrote how the drug cartels are turning poor aliens trying to cross the border into mules by forcing each crosser to carry a backpack containing fifty to sixty pounds of marijuana across the desert where the sun is relentless and the water nonexistent; the “drop houses,” where illegals who had connections in America are placed in a boarded-up room. The kidnappers demand payment in exchange for the immigrant’s life, convincing the relative by having them listen on the phone as the men are beaten and beg for their lives.
Last week the governor toured the U.S. government warehouses holding the children. She told American Thinker, “Each child has a designation of cells, such as ‘cell 7 or cell 8.’ There is a chain link fence surrounding them and they are sleeping on bed mats with just a blanket. It breaks my heart to see babies being born in these facilities. I spoke with a fifteen-year-old who is pregnant. I was told by a lot of these children that they had to pay between $5000 and $7000 and that they still owe money to those who brought them here. You know what these cartels will do -- use extortion. We need to question if there were any children that never arrived, and what happened to them? I am sure some have been sexually abused. What about the potential for these children to be part of a human trafficking ring? Do we know anything about the people they are being released to? As a mother I can never conceive that these children would be sent with a stranger to a strange land on a fifteen-day hazardous journey. I understand the humanitarian argument and feel the situation is pathetic and pitiful. But what about the children who are American citizens living in ghettos and are fearful for their lives because of gang violence? The bottom line is America is not big enough or rich enough to accept all these people.”
Haydee Dawson (R), who is running for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives, feels the biggest issue is America’s immigration system. She is a Hispanic whose mother came here on a legal visa. Both she and her brother had to live with their grandparents in El Salvador for about four years while her mother became a legal resident. “My family went through the proper channels. Americans need to understand that what is happening in these Central American countries are not new. President Obama should he held responsible and we should all be saying ‘enough is enough.’ These children are basically in detention camps and need to be sent back to their country of origin. The message on the streets is that our borders are open for children to come. No matter what this administration is saying people in these countries are not listening to them because many do not read the newspapers or watch TV.”
Martha McSally and Governor Brewer both believe that this crisis highlights the fact that comprehensive immigration reform should not happen before securing the border and reforming the legal immigration system. McSally told American Thinker, “Just look at the numbers. Speculation has up to 90,000 children coming here. At the same time this year we have turned away the same amount of people applying for H1 visas. This is just a reminder of how our legal immigration system is entirely broken and is not nimble or simple. We cannot address other issues until this one is fixed. My campaign took a poll in April asking if they support my position or Ron Barber’s support of comprehensive immigration reform. My district supported me 60 to 40 and Hispanics here were split evenly, 50/50.”
The Obama Administration appears to be turning America into a giant refugee camp. Although everyone sympathizes with the humanitarian situation, it is no worse than what is happening in many of the cities across this country. Is this administration just incompetent or spiteful? Are they punishing Arizona and its governor? It all appears highly suspect. Yet, the real loser in all this is the American taxpayer who will be paying for these illegal immigrants education, health care, and possibly foster care.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.