Too little, too late: President Joe Biden on Jan. 5 announced several new policies to address the worst border crisis in United States history.  

With irreparable damage done and untold generational consequences, a retrospective is offered, not years into the past, but mere days.

Their nightly campfires glow across the Rio Grande – migrants arriving by the thousands from more than 160 countries – coming by busload and in “promised-land” caravans, waiting for the impending end to Title 42.

Even with this public-health instrument, authorizing immediate migrant expulsion, tenuously functional, overwhelmed Arizona and Texas border towns have declared states of emergency.

In newly dystopian El Paso, Texas, overflowing processing centers spill onto the city’s streets, migrants trespass into startled families’ yards, vandalize property, and swarm sidewalks, to sleep.

At El Paso International Airport, blanketed migrants repose along its corridors of shops and eateries, anticipating a seat on the next day’s taxpayer-funded flights.

And on the more inhospitably sprawling borderland properties, nakedly vulnerable to under-the-radar incursions, among the dry plains’ prickly brush and mesquite trees, ranchers regularly encounter cast-off possessions leading like macabre bread crumbs to migrants’ animal-mined bodies.

2019 saw a starkly contrasting urgency to the illegal immigration issue. With a Democratic cavalcade morally prompted to the southern border, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez notoriously compared migrant processing centers to concentration camps, which, intentionally or not, likened then-President Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler.

The nightmarish image of illegal migrants sepulchrally emerging from city sewer lids be damned. The apparent sentiment of Sen. Chuck Schumer is the more, the merrier! Decoratively wreathed by an array of DREAMers, Sen. Schumer, in a recent Capitol Hill press conference, announced that the “ultimate goal” for a nation “not reproducing on its own” is a path to citizenship for “however many undocumented immigrants there are here.”

A December Harvard-Harris Poll would indicate that most Americans are clueless of the magnitude of our border crisis. A mere 6% of respondents selected the correct range of illegal border crossings in the past year. When apprised of the actual number, 2.75 million, 67% believed stricter enforcement measures should be implemented.

Stationed not on some far-flung poem’s century-bitten shore, but occupying the here and now,  along sidewalks, inside underpass tunnels, bathing out of public library sinks: the half-million homeless Americans giving human form to Emma Lazarus’ “wretched refuse,” our military veterans, our mentally ill, our drug addicts, have been, with disturbing wholesale ease, enshadowed by these prioritized new arrivals, which with the inclusion of known got-aways, number 8,000 to nearly 10,000 a day.

Suffering through ongoing “transitory” inflation, many Americans are barely squeaking by. Everyday items like coffee, eggs, fruit, and beef have seen a substantial and sustained price increase since 2021. And gas prices remain at some 75% above their 2020 sub-$2.00-per-gallon average.

With these chronic socio-economic issues in mind, how are local municipalities like Pueblo, Aurora, Colorado Springs, and Denver to pay for untold thousands, nationwide millions, of incoming public charges?

Against a national debt backdrop of $31 trillion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently addressed Congress in an almsgiving carnival sideshow, a calculated distraction from southern border chaos.

Kisses flew, applause thundered, and $45 billion snowed down upon this beloved Ukrainian leader. To date, the profiteering rallying cry “Democracy versus Tyranny” has bled United States taxpayers of approximately $100 billion.

The $1.7-trillion omnibus bill, allocating Ukraine’s $45 billion, was over 4,000 pages of dizzying legal-speak and released at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday before a Friday vote. 

In addition to Ukraine’s border-war payout, $410 million is headed to Middle Eastern border security (page 393).  Arguably, the bill prohibits funding for our own southern border’s defense, with directed emphasis on illegal migrant housing (page 681), expedited processing, and dispersed relocation within the United States (page 753).

Sen. Mitch McConnell has proclaimed Ukraine to be our nation’s “number-one priority.” And so, rejecting an amendment to the omnibus that would have extended Title 42 – and forestalled a potential 18,000 daily illegal border crossings – 18 Senate Republicans, with McConnell at the helm, voted “aye.”

☀ MORE IN OPINION

The omni-bucks might have stopped with President Biden, at the time on a Caribbean holiday. But Joe Biden 2023 is unrecognizable from the Democratic senator he once was, the one that opposed sanctuary cities and advocated for a barrier along the southern border, in the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

This legislation succinctly spells out the Biden administration’s nebulous definition of a “secure” border: “the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States.”

We must recognize the calamitous burden illegal immigration is placing on local municipalities – causing housing shortages, packed classrooms, wage deflation, a fraught healthcare system, and the hastened draining of our natural resources.

Our entire immigration system is outdated. For example, the current standard for initial asylum claims is ludicrously susceptible to outside coaching and loophole exploitation; and birthright citizenship for babies born in the United States to noncitizen mothers makes a mockery of the Reconstructionist spirit of the 14th Amendment.

But the foremost misdeed: What’s been occurring at our southern border is an offense against national sovereignty.

It’s time America’s elected collective executes its constitutional obligations: to “insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” and “protect every State in this Union against Invasion.”


Scott Hammond lives in Denver.

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Scott R. Hammond

Scott Hammond lives in Denver.