Public Comment

The Migrant Message to Trump: Obey the Law

Harry Brill
Thursday November 29, 2018 - 10:42:00 PM

We are horrified that the U.S. Border Patrol agents firing tear gas to into the crowd to disperse hundreds of Central American migrants in Tijuana who tried to climb over the border fence to enter the U.S. from the Mexican side. Woman and children were among the victims. About President Trump's reaction, he calls the caravan migrants "stone cold criminals" He cited various offenses they allegedly committed. But even the Department of Homeland Security could not find any evidence to back up his claims. 

However, it is not only important that we appreciate the desperation of the migrants. We need to also understand that they are attempting to persuade the Trump administration to obey the law. As one federal judge reminded the president, that the law allows foreigners to enter the U.S. and request asylum. The 1965 Immigrant and Naturalization Act states that any foreigner who arrives in the U.S "whether or not at a designation port of arrival may apply for asylum. As a federal judge remarked, "the president cannot just make the law go away." 

Among the ruses that Trump is attempting is to cut down on the legal access of these immigrants The Administration is limiting the number of asylum requests that will be heard to no more than 100 per day. Because of the huge number of asylum seekers, it could take many months before their claims are considered.  

But the President certainly has the staff to do much better. In fact, to contain the activities of these migrants the president has deployed 500 officers. Many more officers are available. So rather than intimidating the migrants, clearly, their claims could all be heard in just a few weeks. But that would require President Trump to obey the law. In contrast, it is the migrants who are attempting to assure that the law is obeyed.