Monday, December 11 , 2017, 2:43 am | Overcast with Haze 43º


Diane Dimond: The Migration Mess from Central America Our Own Making

Global Positioning Satellite systems can pinpoint our location no matter where we are in the world and tell us precisely where to turn to get to our destination. U.S. satellites monitor just about anything on Earth — from the path of a forest fire to the route of a convoy of trucks. We know for a fact that the National Security Agency has had eyes and ears on just about every phone call and email sent or received — worldwide.

So can someone please explain to me how we apparently missed the substantial exodus of migrants from Central America headed for our southern border? By all reports, this mass migration — which has now resulted in a major humanitarian crisis — began last October. Yet the public is only just hearing about it now, after it has reached catastrophic proportions.

How big a catastrophe is it? President Barack Obama is now asking Congress for $2 billion in emergency funds to tackle the flood of illegal immigrants crossing our border.

Did our intelligence community fail to notice the considerable increase in vehicular and foot traffic? Or did they notice and were told to keep it quiet? Given the behavior out of Washington lately, I'm thinking it was the latter.

Reporters have been straining to get reliable statistics about how many emigrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have come to America since last fall. It's been reported that at least 52,000 unaccompanied children have entered, along with another 40,000 adults and families. But no one in Washington will put an official number on it. Not U.S. Customs Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, not White House press secretary Josh Earnest, not even Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson answers when asked how many Central American immigrants have been allowed into the United States since October.

"I have no news for you," Johnson recently told an Associated Press reporter who asked for a firm figure. Johnson told the AP reporter to consult his public information office, which failed to return "roughly a dozen requests for information," according to the AP.

Can it be that all those top government officials don't know the answer to the question, or is it more likely that they have been told not to admit to the magnitude of the problem as the midterm elections draw near?

Look, we are a benevolent people, and it was absolutely the right thing to do to immediately allow in all those unaccompanied children. We didn't have a fancy place to house and feed them. We didn't have enough medical professionals to tend to them right away. But, I believe, we did — and are doing — our best.

Along the way, however, someone in authority decided to also allow in tens of thousands more unauthorized people. Now we have one heck of an expensive mess on our hands. It defies understanding why no one in authority ordered up a flight to immediately send those early refugees home as a message to others that the U.S. would not tolerate such unlawful entry.

Besides being a humanitarian crisis, this could result in a national security crisis as we have no idea if opportunistic terrorists might have mingled in with the border-crossing crowds. It boggles my mind that our Department of Homeland Security (into which we have poured billions of dollars since 9/11) doesn't know who or how many have crossed our border.

It's beyond belief that someone decided to simply hand out a slip of paper to the incoming adults informing them they had 15 days to report to the nearest Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. And I guess you won't be shocked to learn that no one in Washington can or will say how many of these immigrants actually showed up for their immigration hearings.

I'm betting many of those poor Spanish-speaking folks could not read the paper directive. I'm positive none was given a GPS to show them where the nearest U.S. immigration office was located. We allowed them to come into our country and — if they chose to travel inland — scatter to the wind. Those who stayed close to the U.S. border made us scramble to open additional emergency detention centers in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.

Whoever made the fateful decision to virtually open the border last fall has cost American taxpayers dearly, and given the overcrowded, warehouse-like accommodations we have been able to afford the refugees, it didn't do them any favors either. Hardly the American Dream they were seeking.

The U.S. already sends $130 million a year in financial aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Now the White House says we will spend another $255 million to return all those unaccompanied minors to their families and to help set up anti-violence and gang prevention programs in Central America. Oh, and the administration has also announced they plan a costly advertising campaign in those countries to deliver the message that this type of entry into the U.S. will be strictly prohibited in the future.

I'm wondering if anyone has given thought to the idea of withholding U.S. financial aid to the region until they crack down on crime and give their citizens a safer place to live. Where is it written that the United States must solve their problems? We have our own displaced and homeless population, our own crime-infested neighborhoods that need attention.

It doesn't matter that U.S. bureaucrats have now announced they will shut off this influx of exiles. The damage is done. The hundreds of millions of dollars this is costing us includes multiple millions to upgrade our immigration court system so we can process all these new arrivals.

Won't anyone be held accountable?

Who gave the initial order to U.S. guards to ignore the law and open up the border? Why didn't someone in authority step in and stop the flow when it was manageable? How far up the chain of command did the decision making go? Was it all the way to the White House?

As an American taxpayer upon who's back this is being financed, I want some answers. And I want them now — not after the November elections.

Diane Dimond is the author of Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case. Contact her at [email protected], follow her on Twitter: @DiDimond, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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