TRAGESSER: Are Open Borders NGOs Aiding Migrants Or Using Them To Achieve Their Political Goals?

(Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

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Open borders non-governmental organizations (NGOs) significantly influence the Biden administration’s immigration policies and priorities.

 Recently, top administration officials met with dozens of immigration activists who have ties to NGOs such as Pueblo Sin Fronteras — a group that orchestrated the several thousand-person caravans in 2018 and 2019.

For the most part, NGOs have made the world a better place and have helped improve the lives of many. But when it comes to immigration-related matters, these groups can operate in the same manner as some of Mexico’s prominent cartels. They exploit vulnerable migrants, facilitate illegal immigration and engage in corruption. Criticism of their actions is well-deserved, and we must hold these open borders NGOs more accountable.

Mass migration NGOs often do not reveal the financial and safety risks to migrants wanting to seek a better life in the United States. These groups are often overzealous and tell migrants that entering the United States is a seamless process. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth (albeit, maybe not as much under President Biden).

Many have criticized the notorious Pueblo Sin Fronteras over their treatment of migrants in its organized caravans. The group has repeatedly provoked U.S. immigration authorities by encouraging unruly and large crowds to form at the U.S.-Mexico border. Since these officials are required to enforce the rule of law and secure our borders, many of these migrants are put in harm’s way and suffer the consequences as Border Patrol agents act to prevent organized border incursions.

These types of groups will also escort migrants through horrific conditions to reach the United States. Migrants will face violence, extreme temperatures, food and water shortages, and even death on the trek.

Migrants end up giving up large portions of their savings (or, in many instances, incurring large debts to the criminal cartels) with no guarantee of reaching the U.S.-Mexico border. Financial constraints, compromised health, regional partners better enforcing their immigration laws and changes in U.S. administrations are circumstances that can cut a migrant’s trip short. But they are rarely told this.

“We were never told along the way that it would be this hard,” said a Guatemalan migrant named Adelaida Gonzalez when asked about her experience with Pueblo Sin Fronteras.

Open borders NGOs have facilitated illegal immigration into the country in the same way that the most notable Mexican cartel groups do on a daily basis. Many NGOs instruct migrants how to reach the U.S.-Mexico border via social media and provide resources on the trek. The organization, structure and guidance are in line with some of Mexico’s most profitable cartel groups, which profit billions annually every year by instructing and shepherding migrants to and across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Facilitating illegal immigration helps both NGOs and cartels maximize profits and achieve their organizational goals. Both groups achieve their desired ends in the process. The cartels know that millions of migrants seek to migrate to the United States and are willing to pay premium to come here. Creating chaos at the southern border means that cartels can smuggle drugs, weapons and dangerous criminals into the country with ease.

The NGOs goals are political and ideological. They benefit by creating additional pressure on lawmakers to fulfill their political objective of mass amnesty for illegal aliens, followed by endless family chain migration, while the media-amplified bad optics at the border enhances their calls for elimination of any meaningful border enforcement. In this respect, both open borders NGOs and cartels – each in their own ways – benefit from unending flows of migrants attempting to breach our borders.

Corruption remains a large problem among NGOs — especially those operating in the Northern Triangle countries — and is also similar to the widespread corruption found in cartels operating in Mexico.

In 2018, authorities found that two prominent Hondurans NGOs siphoned millions of dollars of grant money that did not reach their intended beneficiaries. Another prominent NGO in Guatemala was also found to be mismanaging its resources. In a recently declassified corruption report, the State Department accused more than 50 current or former senior officials of engaging in or facilitating corruption in the Northern Triangle countries.

Watchdog groups, the media and our lawmakers must hold NGOs more accountable. In cases where authorities determine that a group is facilitating illegal immigration, deliberately harming the lives of migrants, or engaging into corrupt practices, relevant authorities must step in and at least terminate the organization’s tax-exempt non-governmental organization status.

Open borders NGOs and their affiliates influence the Biden administration’s immigration policies and priorities. Rather than aiding migrants, their primary objective is reshaping U.S. immigration policies – a political end, rather than a humanitarian one. In too many instances they are not protecting the interests of migrants, but instead are working to maximize their fundraising efforts, while using migrants as pawns to achieve political goals. In other words, rather than occupying the moral high ground, they have become creatures of the political swamp they claim to be draining.

Matthew Tragesser is press secretary at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in Washington D.C.