Family Arrests At Border Hit Record High For Fourth Straight Month

Arrests of families of illegal immigrants at the Mexican border in December reached a record high for the fourth month in a row. Per data from Customs and Border Protection, arrests of families along the southern border have set new records for the past four consecutive months.

CNN reports that the CBP arrested 27,518 family members in December 2018. This represents an increase of nearly 240% from December 2017, which had 8,120 arrests. CBP statistics show an increase in family arrests on the border since August 2018. Arrest statistics are considered to be a measure of illegal border crossings under the assumption that more arrests will be made if more crossings are attempted.

The CBP website contains a prominent notice saying, “ Due to the lapse in federal funding, this website will not be actively managed,” and “This website was last updated on December 21, 2018, and will not be updated until after funding is enacted.” The statistics presented by CNN apparently reflect numbers that are not yet available on the CBP website due to the government shutdown.

While arrests of Family Unit Aliens (FMUA) have increased in recent months, total arrests have decreased slightly. Total arrests on the southwest border were 50,753 in December, slightly fewer than the 51,856 in November. Border traffic often decreases in December due to holidays and colder weather.

The shift seems to represent a changing pattern of illegal immigration across the Mexican border. Illegal border crossings reached a 46-year low in 2017 and have not increased appreciably since. While the total number of illegal border crossings is low by historical standards, families are making up a larger share of those who do cross the border.

The larger number of families and children at the border is overwhelming the ability of CBP to house and care for them. Yet out of the thousands of arrests at the southern border, only six were suspected terrorists compared with 41 at the Canadian border. The crisis at the border is a humanitarian crisis rather than a national security crisis.

CBP Commissioner Kevin McAlleenan agrees that the big problem at the border is dealing with the volume of families and minors. McAlleenan told ABC News in December 2018, “The — the humanitarian crisis we’re facing — that means there are 60,000 people crossing the border each month — each of the last three months. That’s 30,000 families, 5,000 kids per month. That means we’re going to have 22,000 children come through our system, a system built for adults who are violators of the law. Now they’re coming in to border patrol stations as young children. So that — that’s a huge crisis.”

“The breaking point at the border is because of the volume,” McAlleenan added, noting that a 2015 case upheld by the 9th Circuit in 2016 led to the current problem of being unable to complete immigration proceedings for immigrants that arrived with children. The decision created an incentive for illegal immigrants to bring their children across the border.

“So basically, that sent a signal, if you arrive with a child, you’ll be able to stay in the United States,” McAlleenan said. “And that’s why we’ve seen continued growth month after month of people coming with children.”

One of the big questions of the hour is whether the humanitarian crisis provides sufficient grounds for President Trump to use his executive authority to declare a national emergency and bypass Congress to fund construction for the wall. The answer is almost certainly no.

Illegal immigration across the southwest border is currently very low by historical standards. The CBP website, which may have incomplete data, puts total arrests along the Mexican border at 396,579 for 2018. That’s more than the 2017 total of 310,531 but far less than the 1.6 million arrests from 2000 or the 723,825 who were arrested 10 years ago in 2008 (CBP data going back to 2000 can be viewed here).

The illegal immigration problem that we face today is very different from the one that we faced 20 years ago. In 2015, Pew Research reported that the Mexican immigration wave was ending as more Mexicans left the US than entered. Today, the CBP statistics note that arrests of Mexican families along the border are far fewer than those from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras. This reduction in immigration from Mexico is partly due to the creation of more economic opportunity in Mexico by NAFTA as well as the deterioration of conditions in Central America.

Although he acknowledges that more capacity to house detainees is needed, CBP’s McAlleenan has an idea on how to solve the problem. Actually, he has several of them.

“So, I think this is a multifaceted problem that requires a multifaceted solution,” he said. “You mentioned the legal framework, based on that Flores settlement and the court decision families are going to be released. So that’s inviting families into this dangerous journey. We need a sober-minded, nonpartisan look at our immigration laws to really confront and grapple with the fact that children and families are coming into this cycle, that’s first and foremost.”

“We also need to invest in Central America,” he added. He advocates working with Central American nations and Mexico to help fix the problems, such as violence, food shortages, and malnutrition, that make people want to leave those countries to come to the US.

He also favors physical barriers for certain parts of the border, particularly those that “have a dense metropolitan area on both sides of the border, where people can disappear quickly into a neighborhood in the U.S. side if we can’t slow them down.”

McAlleenan’s idea of a barrier includes much more than just a wall. “And what we’re talking about is not just a dumb barrier,” he says, “We’re talking about sensors, cameras, lighting, access roads for our agents, a system that helps us secure that area of the border.”

The $5 billion that President Trump has requested would pay for about 215 miles of McAlleenan’s requested improvements to the border. The entire border is almost 2,000 miles long.

Chris Wallace Sets Record Straight On Terrorists Illegally Crossing From Mexico

A major talking point of the Trump Administration has been that the border wall is vital to national security. As part of their argument, President Trump has made the claim that terrorists have been apprehended crossing the southern border with Mexico. This and similar claims became the focal point of a heated discussion between White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Chris Wallace of Fox News yesterday.

On Fox News Sunday, Wallace cited Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s statement that CBP had stopped more than 3,000 special interest aliens at the southern border and explained that “special interest aliens” are “people who come from countries that have ever produced a terrorist.” Wallace added, “They aren’t terrorists themselves” and noted that the State Department said that there was “no credible evidence of any terrorist coming across the border from Mexico.”

Sanders responded, “We know that there are nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists [that] come into our country illegally and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border.”

Wallace interrupted, “I know that statistic. I didn’t know if you were going to use it, but I studied up on this. You know where those 4,000 people come from, where they are captured? Airports!”

“Not always,” Sanders retorted.

“The State Department says there hasn’t been any terrorist that they’ve found coming across the southern border,” Wallace fired back.

“It’s by air, it’s by land, it’s by sea, it’s all of the above,” Sanders answered.

“But they’re not coming across the southern border, Sarah,” Wallace said, ‘They’re coming and they’re being stopped at airports.”

I had also heard the Homeland Security statistics and Trump’s claims about terrorists coming from Mexico. They didn’t ring true. Think about how the Trump Administration reacts when an illegal alien commits a violent. Both perpetrator and victim are featured prominently in talking points and the president’s tweets. Over the past few years, we have seen this pattern with Kate Steinle, Mollie Tibbets, and the recent murder of police Corporal Ronil Singh in California.

But when it comes to terrorists crossing the Mexican border, the Trump Administration has been astonishingly silent. If terrorists were being captured as they crossed the border from Mexico, it seems likely that the Trump Administration would be marching them before the media to make the case for the border wall. They haven’t.

Instead, we have a bait-and-switch. Trump surrogates like Sanders make two separate claims and link them together. On one hand, Sanders makes the verifiable claim that “there are nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists [that] come into our country illegally.” On the other, she offers an opinion that “our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border.” Sanders dishonestly leads the viewer to make the erroneous connection that the 4,000 terrorists were apprehended at the Mexican border, when, in fact, they were apprehended at airports.

Border security is a legitimate concern, both at the Mexican border and at airports, but the revelation that the Trump Administration has been purposely misleading the country about how terrorists enter the country undercuts the already shaky case for a border wall.

In fact, current security at the Mexican border seems to be working pretty well. The migrant caravan, which was pitched as an “invasion” in October, is still sitting in Tijuana where its members are waiting to legally apply for asylum. Illegal border crossings have already been declining for years, hitting a 46-year low in 2017. For more than a decade now, most illegal aliens have entered the country legally and overstayed visas rather than sneaking across the Mexican border. By 2014, two-thirds of new illegals were visa overstays.

While it certainly isn’t impossible that terrorists could sneak across the Mexican border, possibly through one of the innumerable tunnels that run underneath current physical barriers, there is no evidence that they are doing so. If conservatives want to make dispassionate policy decisions and use taxpayer money to the greatest advantage for the country, facts support the idea that border security money should be focused toward tracking aliens who enter the country legally on visas and then drop out of sight.

The Trump Administration loses more of its credibility, which is already in short supply, when they make false claims such as advancing the idea that terrorists are streaming across the Mexican border. Kudos to Chris Wallace and Fox News for setting the record straight.


Why The Wall Is Not The Solution To Illegal Immigration

Donald Trump’s wall has been a centerpiece of Republican immigration policy since 2015. The bruising fight over wall funding led the current government shutdown that, at this point, is certain to last into the new year. Aside from funding, however, there is another big problem with the wall: It won’t do what it is intended to do.

The idea of the wall is established on the premise that a physical barrier running the entire length of the US-Mexico border is the only way to prevent illegal immigration. The total length of the US-Mexico border is 1,989 miles (3,201 km) and the sheer length of the border would make the construction of a wall along the southern border a massive undertaking.

Still, a wall of that length is not impossible to build. China’s Great Wall is 5,500 miles (8,850 km) long. Contrary to popular belief, however, the Great Wall is not entirely composed of the wide stone walls that we know from pictures. While about 3,900 miles are constructed wall sections, there are also 225 miles of trenches, and 1,400 miles of natural barriers such as hills and rivers.

Natural barriers are also present along the southern US border. While many Americans picture the Mexican border as a flat, desert wasteland, in reality, there are many different types of terrain. As pictured in an interactive map from USA Today, the border geography ranges from urban areas in places like San Diego and Laredo to the sheer rock cliffs of Texas’ Big Bend to coastal marshes and salt flats along the Gulf of Mexico near Brownsville, Texas.

One of the largest obstacles to the construction of a wall is that 1,260 miles of the border are defined by the Rio Grande. The entire border between Texas and Mexico is defined by this river, which in many places is shallow enough to walk across. At its deepest point, the Rio Grande is only 60 feet deep and at times the river is a mere trickle if there is a surface flow at all.

Walling up the Rio Grande may be possible from an engineering standpoint, but the river raises a different sort of problem in Texas. In the arid regions of south and west Texas, ranchers depend on the Rio Grande to water both crops and cattle. If the wall is erected on the northern side of the river, it would be equivalent to ceding the region’s primary water supply to Mexico. The Mexicans would most likely not cooperate with placing the wall on the southern side and a wall built in the center of the river would not only be structurally unsound but could alter the course of the river, a violation of treaties with Mexico.

At present, many plans for the border wall in Texas would be set back from the Rio Grande. The problem here is that it would not keep people from crossing the border illegally. It would only impede them in moving from the border region to the interior of the country. Such a wall would be more effective against smugglers than refugees seeking amnesty, who would easily cross onto US soil. It would also be a major inconvenience for American citizens who live or own property south of the wall.

Because much of the border land in Texas is privately owned, the federal government has had to use eminent domain laws to condemn and seize land where it plans to build the wall in Texas. After passage of the after the Secure Fence Act of 2006, Noel Benavides of Roma, Texas lost a swath of land that had been in his family since 1767 to a wall that has yet to be built across his property.

Wall-building would also be difficult in the desolate areas of west Texas. The southwestern United States contains rocky mountains and sheer cliffs that are reminiscent of Wile E. Coyote cartoons. This terrain is ill-suited to construction but is passable to determined travelers.

Even after the wall is built, the need for maintenance would be constant. Earthquakes, rock slides, floods, erosion, corrosion, and, of course, vandalism could cause damage to sections of the wall. The structure would have to be constantly monitored and repaired.

Would the wall be worth the time, trouble, and treasure that it would take to build and maintain it?

There are already about 650 miles of border fence along the borders of California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The current fencing consists of a mix of vehicle barriers and pedestrian fencing that vary in height, construction, quality, and condition.

While the wall is a centuries-old technology, the current fencing has shown that the concept can be defeated by other old technologies such as ladders, ramps, and tunnels. A 2010 viral video showed two young women scaling a border fence unaided by ladders or climbing gear in 18 seconds.  Last November, we witnessed members of the migrant caravan climbing the fence near Tijuana. In 2012, a smuggler’s SUV got stuck crossing the border fence with the aid of ramps. It is uncertain how many similar attempts were not detected. More recently a plethora of smuggling tunnels underneath the border has been found in areas where there are physical barriers above the surface.

The bottom line is that a border wall is no panacea. While the wall might make it more difficult or costly to cross the border, smugglers and illegal immigrants will find a way unless they are physically stopped by Border Patrol agents.

Even though a wall backed up by sensors and Border Patrol agents would be at least partially effective, the immense investment in time and money would leave open another route for illegal immigrants. The Center for Migration Studies reports that visitors who enter the US legally and then overstay visas have exceeded those crossing the border illegally every year since 2007. By 2014, two-thirds of new illegals were visa overstays.

The bottom line is that assuming that a wall is feasible to build at all in areas that have not already been fenced, it will be much more difficult and expensive and much less effective than Republicans generally assume. If the fight to build it is ever won, the wall will still require a significant Border Patrol presence as well as constant maintenance. Even then, the wall would do nothing to prevent visa overstays, a larger source of illegal immigrants than the southern border.

H.L. Mencken famously said, “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.” As conservatives, we should look beyond simplistic and emotional arguments to determine the facts before spending untold billions of dollars. Those facts tell us that a wall is not the best solution to the problem of illegal immigration. Fencing is appropriate for some areas but doesn’t make sense for the entirety of the border. Wall funding is almost certainly the wrong hill to die on, especially since most polls show that a majority of Americans oppose the wall.

The inability to control the border isn’t a problem unique to the southern United States. Walls didn’t work well for the Chinese either. The Great Wall didn’t prevent its defenders from being overrun on multiple occasions. No less than four times the Xiongnu, the Jurchens, the Mongols, and the Manchus pierced the defensive barrier.

With No Wall Funding, Trump Retreats On Shutdown Threat

After issuing an ultimatum to Democratic leaders last week, President Trump is backing down on his threat to shut down the government if Congress does not approve funding for his border wall project. Yesterday the White House suggested that the president was willing to reverse his position that any funding measure must include $5 billion for the border wall and today Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appears ready to move forward on a measure that would fund the government through February 8. Without a deal, nonessential government operations would shut down on December 21.

On Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Fox News, “We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion” and would “work with Congress” to that end. Sanders said that the Trump Administration could support the $1.6 billion on border security funding proposed by Democrats and that the president would seek to “couple that with other funding resources” to reach the $5 billion target.

“At the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government,” Sanders said. “We want to shut down the border.”

This marks a reversal from last week when President Trump boasted to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), “I am proud to shut down the government for border security because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down.”

The White House retreat comes amid a turbulent week for the Trump Administration. The Dow fell more than 500 points on Monday and former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan warned that investors should prepare for the worst. At the same time, Trump called his former attorney Michael Cohen “a rat” on Twitter and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn continues to cooperate with federal investigators. Mr. Trump’s charity, The Trump Foundation, is also being shut down amid allegations of corruption by the New York Attorney General.

The wall was a core promise of President Trump’s campaign but funding for the project has so far proved elusive. Even though Republicans control both houses of Congress, Democrats have enough seats to filibuster bills that fund the wall. The problem will become even worse for the president next year when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives.  Given Democrats’ strong opposition to the wall, it seems unlikely that the president’s promise will ever be fulfilled.

The good news is that Democrats have indicated that they don’t oppose border security in principle, they just oppose the wall. By holding them to this position, the Trump Administration might be able to negotiate funds to secure the border by other methods that would be even more effective and less expensive than a wall. These methods would include virtual walls of sensors, more Border Patrol officers, and fencing in certain areas.

Fingers Point After Seven-Year-Old Girl Dies After Crossing The Border Illegally

A seven-year-old girl from Guatemala has died while in the custody of the Border Patrol. The girl, who crossed the border with her father on Dec. 6, was part of a group of migrants that crossed the US-Mexico border illegally and turned themselves in to authorities. The girl had been in custody for about eight hours when she died of dehydration.

The incident was initially reported by the Washington Post and confirmed by US authorities. Per the report, CBP records indicate the girl and her father were taken into custody about 10:00 p.m. on Dec. 6. near Lordsburg, N.M. The pair were part of a group of 163 people who illegally crossed the border and then approached Border Patrol agents to turn themselves in.

Government records show that the girl began having seizures at 6:25 a.m. Emergency medical personnel responded and found her temperature to be 105.7 degrees. CBP told the Post in a statement that she “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days.”

The girl was transported by helicopter to Providence Children’s Hospital in El Paso, about 150 miles away. Per the statement, she went into cardiac arrest and was treated, “however, the child did not recover and died at the hospital less than 24 hours after being transported.” The hospital listed the cause of death as septic shock, fever, and dehydration.

“Our sincerest condolences go out to the family of the child,” CBP spokesman Andrew Meehan said in the statement to the Post. The girl’s father is reportedly still in El Paso awaiting a meeting with Guatemalan consular officials. The identities of the girl and her father have not been released.

“Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child’s life under the most trying of circumstances,” Meehan said. “As fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, we empathize with the loss of any child.”

The Post notes that food and water are normally provided to illegal immigrants in federal custody, but it was not known whether the girl had received either before suffering the seizures. The AP reports that migrants often spend as much as 72 hours in custody at a Border Patrol facility before being transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or being deported back to Mexico if that is their country of origin. The size of the group that the girl was with may have resulted in longer than usual processing times for the small Border Patrol station at Lordsburg.

On Tuesday, CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told the Senate that current facilities are not prepared for the new reality of large groups of migrant families crossing the border illegally. “Our Border Patrol stations were built decades ago to handle mostly male single adults in custody, not families and children,” he said.

The CBP said that they plan to do an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death, but that results will not be known for several weeks. An internal investigation is also underway to determine whether proper procedures were followed.

Even though the facts are not all in, both sides are taking aim at their usual targets. Already, some on the right are taking to social media to blame the girl’s father for her death. From the left, the blame is being placed squarely on law enforcement.

The death of a Guatemalan seven-year-old girl is a tragedy, but it is a tragedy with more than one cause. When examining aviation accidents, we look at the error chain. If any of the links in the chain is broken, the accident might have been avoided.

In the girl’s death, the chain begins with the poverty and violence in Guatemala. I’ve traveled through Guatemala and seen the squalor of the small villages where people have few opportunities to make their lives better. The chain continues with the long walk north that covered thousands of miles and left a small girl exhausted. The next link is the final stretch of the journey that led across the arid wastes of northern Mexico where there is little water. And, yes, a link in the chain is the fact that the lack of a security barrier encourages migrants to undertake this perilous journey.

To be fair, another link in the chain is our broken immigration system. Under our current system, legal immigration is so difficult that it incentivizes illegal immigration. Unrest in Central America and new Trump Administration restrictions on legal immigration, such as a reduced number of work visas, have made the problem worse. There is an increasing desire to immigrate and a decreasing number of slots. For many migrants, the need to find a job in the US to support their families makes the walk across the border enticing.

The final links in the chain that led to the girl’s death seem to have been the size of her group and the wait time at the Border Patrol station. It is likely that she sat for hours, quietly dying, unnoticed while other migrants were booked into the facility. By the time she started having seizures, it may have already been too late to save her life.

There is so far no evidence that the Border Patrol acted improperly in the situation, but that doesn’t make the girl’s death any less of a tragedy. I certainly don’t believe that they intentionally let a child suffer and die, but the truth is that by refusing to fix our immigration system, we played a role in her death.

As I’ve written before, there is only one way to resolve the crisis at the border and that is with comprehensive immigration reform that includes both stepped-up security including at least a partial barrier and an overhauled legal immigration system. The carrot-and-stick approach of stiffer penalties for illegal immigration and more opportunities to come here legally is the only approach that has any chance of becoming law. The longer we take to acknowledge this, the more little girls will die in the desert.

Trump Administration To Allow Refugees From All Countries

A little more than a month after the Trump Administration unveiled the third version of its controversial immigration ban, the government is now ready to resume accepting refugees from all countries. Refugee resettlements will resume with new rules that are meant to more strictly vet the backgrounds of potential immigrants.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the new rules include collecting more personal data, such as names of family members and prior employment information, as well as crosschecking social media posts to confirm information on applications to enter the US. Additionally, officials at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services who examine applications will be given improved training on detecting fraud.

Under the new policy, refugee admissions will resume from all countries, but a source familiar with the policy told the Journal that refugees from 11 targeted countries will be subject to additional screening. The 11 countries were not specified, but would almost certainly include Syria, Iran, Chad, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and North Korea.

Under President Trump’s initial immigration Executive Order, refugee admissions were totally suspended for 120 days. The ban went into effect in June after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.

Under the old rules, American vetting of refugees was already among the toughest in the world. “The United States’ refugee vetting procedures—which include extensive and comprehensive interviews as well as multiple rounds of security vetting with an array of U.S. and international intelligence and law enforcement agencies—are widely recognized as the most stringent in the world,” Human Rights First, a pro-refugee group said in a statement last month.

The Journal also notes that the Obama Administration also tried to increase vetting of social media posts, but that the program proved difficult because it was so labor intensive. The Trump Administration has not indicated how it will handle the social media vetting.

Although refugees have carried out terror attacks in other countries, only one refugee in the United States has been convicted on terror-related charges.  Fazliddin Kurbanov, an Uzbekistan national admitted to the US in 2009, was convicted in 2013. Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who carried out stabbing attacks at Ohio State University in 2016, was a Somali refugee. The Tsarnaev brothers, who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing, came to the US from Chechnya, but were not classified as refugees. Many other domestic terrorists were second-generation immigrants.

As part of the revisions to immigration policies, the Trump Administration limited the number of refugees that would be allowed into the US to 45,000. In contrast, the Obama Administration had planned to allow 110,000 refugees in 2017. There is no indication that the refugee cap will be changed under the new policy.

Did George W. Bush Really Bash President Trump?

There has been a lot of criticism from Trump supporters for President Bush after his speech on conservative values this week. The criticism stems from the perception that Bush was attacking Donald Trump in the speech, even though Bush never specifically mentioned Trump.

In the speech, Bush laid out the case for traditional conservative solutions and decried a number of disturbing trends that are rocking western countries. Among the problems that Bush cited are lack of public confidence in institutions and democracy, bigotry, casual cruelty, nativism, and isolationism. Pundits, both on the left and the right, assume this to be an attack on Trumpist populism.

What most observers miss is that many of these problems are as easily attributed to the left as to the right. For example, wasn’t it Barack Obama who argued that America should have a smaller role in world affairs and who led the national retreat from the world stage? With his opposition to free trade and interventionist foreign policy, Bernie Sanders can be called an isolationist as easy as Donald Trump.

It was also Barack Obama’s presidency that saw public faith in government shattered. Ironically, the president for whom government was the solution to every problem presided over eight years in which public confidence in almost every branch of government fell to historic lows.

With respect to bullying and bigotry, would Trump supporters and others on the right argue that Antifa and Black Lives Matter are not bullies and bigots who engage in casual cruelty? Leftist groups that promote violence in place of civil discourse and who value one ethnicity over others are as deserving of these labels as anyone.

But in fairness, President Bush’s words do bear a strong resemblance to President Trump as well. If the president’s partisans get defensive on these counts, it is probably because the general denunciation of policies and attitudes can be applied as easily to the new Republican Party as to the left. It is only by looking back to past Republican presidents, that we can fully see much the GOP has changed in recent years.

The “deficit of confidence” that President Bush named as “one of our worst national problems” applies not only to both Donald Trump and Barack Obama, but to Democrats and Republicans in general. For more than a decade, government has seemed incapable of addressing anything but the simplest problems. If you need a post office named, they can do that. Anything more significant gets bogged down in partisan stalemate.

President Bush’s speech was not aimed at Donald Trump. Or rather, it was not aimed only at Donald Trump. But it is understandable why Trump partisans would take offense. It is, after all, the truth.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

UPDATED: Judge Orders Feds to Allow a Minor illegal Alien to Have an Abortion

Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ordered the Trump administration to allow an illegal alien teenager to obtain an abortion.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement had prevented the 17-year-old, identified only as Jane Doe and who is being held at a shelter for unaccompanied undocumented minors in Texas, from getting an abortion.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit Friday, in a Washington, D.C. federal court, challenging the “obstruction” and the Trump administration’s abortion ban for undocumented pregnant girls who are held in the government-funded shelters. The Trump abortion ban, which was revealed in documents filed in a San Francisco court case, has been in effect since March and prohibits abortions for pregnant girls who entered the United States alone and are in immigration custody.

Under the Administration’s policy, shelters cannot release minors for abortion-related services without approval of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. Bob Egelko reports the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Scott Lloyd, has said he will allow release detainees only for “pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling. . . . My priority is unborn children, and there will be no more abortions.”

According to Egelko, pregnant minors in the shelters are ordered to visit religiously sponsored “crisis pregnancy centers” where they are shown fetal sonograms, warned of the dangers of abortions and pressured to give birth. In addition, Lloyd’s office contacts the girls’ parents in their homelands to tell them their daughters are pregnant. And Lloyd himself has visited shelters to try to talk individual residents out of having abortions.

The Justice Department has said that Jane Doe’s rights were not being violated because she was free to leave the shelter and return to her homeland.

In her order, Judge Chutkan — an Obama nominee, wrote the government must “promptly and without delay” allow the 17-year-old to “be transported to an abortion provider closest to the shelter where she is being held, closest to J.D.’s shelter in order to obtain the counseling required by [Texas] state law by October 19, 2017, and to obtain the abortion procedure on October 20, 2017 and/or October 21, 2017.”

Chutkan’s order also restrained the government from “interfering with or obstructing [the teen’s] access to abortion counseling or an abortion.”

BuzzFeed reports Chutkan said, “Just because she’s here illegally doesn’t mean she doesn’t have constitutional rights.”

The ACLU argues the right to abortion is covered by the guarantee of due process of law, which is provided, under the Constitution, to any “person” in the United States, and not just to U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. Judge Chutkan’s order has the potential to create a right to abortion for anyone on earth who enters the United States illegally, no matter how briefly.

UPDATE: The Associated Press reports the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, on Thursday, temporarily stayed Judge Chutkan’s ruling ordering the Trump administration to allow the illegal alien teenager to obtain an abortion.

The Court of Appeals still allowed the teenager to be taken to a counseling meeting with the doctor who would perform the abortion.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services filed an appeal Wednesday night shortly after Judge Chutkan ruled in favor of the teenager.