President Donald Trump’s latest setback in dealing with the ongoing surge of parent and minor aliens at our southern border shows the level of power and distortion wrought on the immigration debate by the New York-Washington media axis.
Los Angeles-based U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee dismissed the Justice Department’s request last week to alter the Flores consent decree, stopping, in effect, the Trump administration from regaining the ability to detain illegal-alien family units pending their removal hearings.
Without citing any data, Gee stated in her ruling that growing violence and a “fear of death” back home pushes family units to come to the U.S. illegally — not, as Department of Justice attorneys claimed, the loophole that releases them into U.S. communities, post-apprehension.
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That this “growing violence” narrative could be used to justify a court ruling with wide implications for America’s security and sovereignty is indeed scary because, as a simple fact-check shows, that narrative is 100 percent, flat-out wrong.
When apprehension rates of family units and unaccompanied alien children (UACs) hit surge levels in 2014, “fleeing violence” in Central America immediately became the go-to explanation for major media outlets.
Tellingly, the assertion was never accompanied by statistics showing increasing murder rates in the Central American countries in question: El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala (aka the Northern Triangle). The reason is obvious — it wasn’t increasing.
Actual Northern Triangle murder figures, taken from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, show rates dropping, not increasing, going into the 2014 surge. Measured per 100,000 residents, murder rates for El Salvador dropped significantly in the years preceding, going from 70 to 40 in 2011 and 2013, respectively.
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Guatemala, from which the large majority of family units are coming, and Honduras also saw respective drops: 38 to 34 and 85 to 74 for the same years. Although high, the rates were decreasing or steady; in other words, they cannot explain the fivefold increase in family units and UACs that we’ve seen since 2013.
And, although high, the rates aren’t that much higher than in many large areas of the U.S. According to the U.N.’s latest data, from 2016, murder rates for the Northern Triangle region overall were 56 per 100,000 residents — a rate generally matched by many cities across the U.S.
The five deadliest American cities, which include Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, New Orleans, and St. Louis, have current murder rates spanning 35 to 59. Hundreds of thousands of Northern Triangle aliens live in these cities, especially Baltimore and other nearly-as-deadly cities such as Newark, New Jersey (33) and Washington, D.C. (22).
And disturbingly, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) state and county statistics on where apprehended UACs are being sent (HHS generally doesn’t provide city data), the agency sent thousands of unaccompanied children to the Baltimore and New Orleans areas, some of the most violent in the country, each with murder rates above that of Guatemala.
In reality, the media’s narrative about growing levels of violence in the Northern Triangle was a diversion from the real reasons the apprehension numbers jumped — that is, high U.S. wage standards coupled with 1) the promise of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) amnesty in 2012 (whether understood correctly by the newly arriving aliens or not) and 2) the high probability of simply being released into American communities, post-apprehension (following an initial credible-fear screening, which almost everyone passes).
That high, but steady, murder rates were not the chief surge factor is confirmed by surveys of those emigrating from the Northern Triangle. Other U.N. data show a large majority are motivated by economic factors, with those citing violence barely registering. The second most-cited factor was linking up with separated family members who’d already left for the U.S.
Other surveys have shown similar results, including one from the Department of State, which separately found that nearly half of all young people from the Northern Triangle would come here if they could. With people like Judge Gee doing the nation’s rule-making on immigration, what’s to stop them?
Yale Law Professor Peter Schuck predicted years ago that, out of a growing moral sense of “global social justice,” international human rights, and a general de-emphasis of the citizen/illegal alien distinction, the once long tradition of American immigration jurisprudence emphasizing national sovereignty, border security, and stable labor markets would give way to a much more permissive approach to our immigration laws.
In other words, there would be little basis for any borders at all. Without deflating this moralist and globalist mindset shared by so many within our elite institutions, that day will soon be upon us.
Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel of the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.
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