Caravans, Asylum and MS-13

It’s been frustrating the past couple of days. Attending a family funeral in Wilksboro, N.C., I’ve been unable to respond to the tremendous ruckus created by Steve Haner’s past three columns. Great job, Steve. Keep up the rabble rousing! I’m back now, though, and I’ve been catching up on my reading. And the story the caught my eye was an article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal describing the increasing grip of street gangs like MS-13 and Barrio 18 on the countries of El Salvador and Honduras.

Nabra Hassanen

Reading about the Central American caravans working their way through Mexico toward the United States, I’m struck by two conflicting impulses. The first is humanitarian. It’s impossible to hear the migrants’ stories without feeling compassion for their plight. They live in countries where the bad guys fought the law and… the law lost. The WSJ tells how street gangs rob, extort and murder with impunity. The murder rate in El Salvador is twelve times that of the U.S. Who would not want to flee such places in a desperate search for a better life? Who could blame these people for seeking asylum?

The second impulse is to say, No way, Jose. If the migrants manage to make it into the country, where do you think they’re heading? Well, it turns out that there are three main concentrations of Salvadorans in the United States — California, Long Island, N.Y., Maryland/Virginia, mainly in the Washington metropolitan area. When immigrants come to a new country, they don’t settle at random. They head to locales where people from the same villages and districts have already settled. Many would land in Virginia.

Darwin Martinez Torres

And what kind of people would those immigrants be? The media feeds us photographs of mothers with young children, portraying the caravans as brigades of baby strollers. President Trump speaks of young men capable of violence, conjuring images of the hoodlums who stormed the barricades at the Guatemalan-Mexican border. Trump and the media both have their own political agendas. It’s hard to know whom to trust. I suspect that both capture a piece of the truth.

I err toward the side of caution. Set up facilities and procedures for processing claims of people seeking asylum. But make it clear that people enter the United States on America’s terms, not those of the asylum seekers. The U.S. has an obligation to weed out gang members who might prey upon their fellow Salvadorans — or Americans such as Nabra Hassanen, a 17-year-old Muslim girl who allegedly was beaten and raped in Sterling by a bat-wielding member of MS-13,¬†Darwin Martinez Torres. Surely there is a way to provide sanctuary to asylum seekers while also keeping out murderers, extortionists and rapists.

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14 responses to “Caravans, Asylum and MS-13

  1. If I’m going to keep this up I’m going to need to start paying for more of these *&%$$ paywalls….darn.

    So the Journal piece indicates people do have good reason to flee, which does make me far more sympathetic to allowing people in. But the answer to me remains a more open and numerous legal process, greatly increasing the numbers but preserving the ability to screen. Like you, I see truth on both sides of this debate, and I also see outrageous political gaming on both sides.

    • Re: “these *&%$$ paywalls‚Ķ.darn.”

      A few weeks back I received in mail an offer on WSJ print edition delivered to door and digital combo, that I could not refuse. Hence I am back reading WSJ print edition.

      Good News – the WSJ news reporting has DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED.

      This is because there was a through housecleaning at the paper not long after I quit in disgust. Obviously I was not the only disgusted long time customer who tossed the rag out of my life.

      The WSJ had caught a severe case of Washingon-Postillitis. And so the WSJ had to surgically remove several of its infected and inflamed parts , a contagion of Washingon-Postillitis that had spread north from the fetid swamps and malaria bogs of DC with a sickly vengeance.

  2. This is bogus. The concept of asylum requires a person to seek refuge in the first safe country. For persons leaving Central America, that is Mexico. Indeed, the Mexican government offered a safe haven to the Caravan members. Some accepted it. People rejecting Mexican asylum for the United States are not seeking asylum. They are trying to get into the United States unlawfully.

    Now if we had a media interested in facts, the public would know this.

    • I’ve heard that Mexico has offered asylum to many in the caravan. If the migrants were merely fleeing violence, they would take up Mexico’s offer. But it’s pretty clear that they’d much prefer to live in the United States. Under a properly functioning immigration system, I expect that many if not most of those seeking asylum in the U.S. would be turned away.

      • To paraphrase Leona Helmsley: Following the law is for other people.

        Every individual passing through Mexico from a Central American nation and seeking asylum in the U.S., should be summarily denied.

        Don’t much like the guy, but it’s action like this where laws are ignored that propelled Trump into office.

        • re: ” To paraphrase Leona Helmsley: Following the law is for other people.”

          actually “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes”

          the rich also can buy their way into many countries.. and do so to avoid paying taxes..

  3. Presumably the Virginia General Assembly understands that the vast transfer of monies for education from NoVa to elsewhere in Virginia will continue to be negatively affected by the continuing influx of English As A Second Language (ESOL) students into NoVa. 2019 will be an interesting election year in Virginia as liberals like Kathleen Murphy are called out for lacking a plan to adequately fund education in NoVa while simultaneously supporting NoVa’s role as Virginia’s piggy bank and supporting open border immigration. What was it that Maggie Thatcher once said?

  4. My understanding is that ESOL in places like NoVa involved dozens of different languages… from around the world, no?

    If we really and truly want to stop “illegal” immigration – we would go after every single employer of them and fine them so much money that paying less to illegals would cost them more than if they hired citizens at fair wages.

    Illegals in the US often become de facto slaves to the employers who pay them far lower wages and benefits and force them to do work that is dangerous and illegal.

    But they come here anyhow because even those working conditions are better than where they come from.

    Basically we CHOOSE to demonize people – immigrants as a political strategy for rubes while employers of illegals work to keep politicians from making laws to make it “illegal” for them to hire illegals. Very few are prosecuted… because while we spend billions on border patrol and ICE, we spend very little on going after employers of illegals.

    But the politics of it work just fine because people would rather hate “illegal” workers than the employers of illegals.

    • I’ve advocated requiring every employer (say above 25 workers or contractors) to use E-Verify or lose half of the tax deduction for all employee compensation. I’ve advocated the barring from federal contracts for any company and its principals that cannot prove all their employees or contractors were subjected to E-Verify review. I agree that going after employers is the most important thing that can be done to stop illegal immigration.

      But we still need to prevent illegal immigration and remove those who have either overstayed visas or entered the United States illegally. I support relief for children who were brought here illegally and a merciful amnesty for people have been here say 10 years, paid taxes, learned English, have not been convicted of a crime (save an infraction) and who pay some appropriate fine. But we cannot have open borders.

      I also support turning back any person seeking asylum who had a prior chance to seek asylum in another nation. International law requires people seeking asylum to seek it at the first safe nation. Anyone coming from Central America via Mexico can only seek asylum from Mexico. A person coming through Canada must seek asylum there.

      • To elaborate: E-Verify is only part of the solution. There is a tremendous underground economy in the United States, and illegal immigrants are a big part of it. E-Verify will shut down the employment of illegals by legitimate employers only. It will not touch the cash economy.

        • Jim – I don’t disagree about the underground economy. But the first step needs to be stopping the employment of those people not authorized to work in the United States by “visible” companies. And if we had a requirement to E-Verify longer-term contractors, some of the underground commerce would be stopped as well. For federal government contracts, an E-Verify requirement top-to-bottom would help as well.

        • ANYONE who employs illegals should be subject to the law, no different than all our other talk about “illegal”.

          If we are serious about “illegals” then we ought to also deal with the cash economy which basically preys on these folks.

          • We are on the same page. I fully support a strong crackdown on employers, including when they use “independent contractors.”

  5. Unless we are actually willing to deal severely with ANYONE who hires illegals then we are hypocrites when we say we don’t want to reward illegals coming to this country.

    This is a totally bogus thing in my view. Everyone should be subject to the law -no excuses and I support jail time for employers of illegals cash or otherwise.

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