SCHILLING: The National Emergency Is Real — Illegal Immigration Is Destroying Families

Terry Schilling Contributor
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Political pundits on both sides of the aisle mocked President Trump over the weekend for declaring the border crisis a “national emergency.” This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. While many might question how a functioning meritocracy could select such a boneheaded cadre of losers to run our country’s most treasured institutions — and they would be right to do so — it’s best to appreciate our elites for their most impressive talent: the uncanny ability to find new and creative ways to demonstrate just how out of touch they are with reality.

The crisis at the border is real, and it absolutely merits Trump’s “national emergency” designation.

The United States is now facing a drug crisis unlike any we have ever seen, due in large part to the unimpeded flow of illegal migration across our southern border. Drugs and crime are inundating our communities and destroying families in the process, mostly in predominantly poor flyover regions of the country where blue-checkmark Twitter rarely visits.

According to the CDC, more than 70,000 Americans died in 2017 due to drug overdoses, a number that has unacceptably quadrupled in just 20 years. Each of these victims of drugs had a family. Many had children. Many were children. Most of these overdoses are related to fentanyl — of which 1,500 pounds was seized by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents during 2017. But how much fentanyl wasn’t seized?

While our nation’s politicians generally recognize the existence of an “opioid epidemic”, they appear unwilling to do anything about it on the supply side. House Democrats have quibbled over increasing funding for border security at ports of entry and outright opposed efforts to strengthen in-country enforcement of our immigration laws. Now Democratic presidential candidates are even going as far as calling for existing border walls to be torn down. Apparently 70,000 drug deaths a year isn’t enough.

This shameful callousness from our nation’s leaders toward the victims of the border crisis goes beyond just a disdain for American families. They have also chosen to ignore the humanitarian crisis directly affecting the migrants themselves.

For years, migrant families have been abused and exploited by traffickers, cartels, and gangs. According to a 2017 report from Doctors Without Borders, 31.4% of women had been sexually abused during their transit through Mexico. These women are mothers, wives, and daughters. Who do they report these crimes to when they wish to seek justice? They certainly can’t go to U.S. authorities when they reach their destination for fear of deportation. Because of this dynamic many illegal immigrants become trapped in a cycle of violence and injustice.

Many families have watched helplessly as their young daughters are ripped away from them and trafficked across our border to be sold into prostitution and sex slavery. According to an estimate by the Global Slavery Index, there are 57,000 human trafficking victims in the U.S. By refusing to secure our border and force people to come to the U.S. through the front door, we are aiding and abetting this human horror show.

Only a cold soul could look at photographs (many taken during the Obama administration) of child immigrants in cages and not feel great heartache. But the policy of “family separation” was implemented in direct response to the human trafficking crisis. Many victims of human trafficking are minors who have been taken from their parents and snuck across the border by people claiming to be their parents. These children are threatened with severe punishment and even death and are often too afraid to tell the truth in front of the traffickers to U.S. border agents. Certainly the need for a policy that generated understandable national hysteria merits the declaration of a “national emergency.”

There is plenty of room to debate the merits of the wall or other proposed policies to curb the flow of illegal migration. However, it’s hard to debate that the border crisis isn’t indeed a national emergency, especially since everyone agreed on that before Trump got involved. Republicans cited drug statistics and horrific instances of crime committed by undocumented criminals. Democrats whipped up national hysteria over the “family separation” policy. Immigration activists cited the humanitarian crisis facing migrants. Only now that the president has chosen to act are cynical partisans attempting to downplay the issue.

But addressing this crisis should be an issue that unites all Americans who care about protecting both migrant families and American families. For every Angel Mom who has had a child murdered by an undocumented criminal, there are dozens of migrant mothers who have had violence committed against them and their families but been unable to report it due to fears of deportation. Allowing illegal migration to continue unfettered hurts us all.

America has a moral responsibility to address this national emergency on our border. The president is absolutely right to act.

Terry Schilling (@PizzaPolitico) is the executive director at American Principles Project, a conservative nonprofit dedicated to putting human dignity at the heart of public policy.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.