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The first obligation of every president of the United States since the founding of our nation has always been to protect the American people from harm. President Trump invoked his powers under the Constitution and under laws to do this when he ordered illegal immigrants and asylum seekers to be immediately deported to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Predictably, the president’s critics blasted his action as anti-immigrant hysteria – an irrational act motivated by his supposed hatred of immigrants. But nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s unfortunate that as a deadly pandemic sweeps across most of the world, President Trump’s political opponents can’t put political rhetoric and ideology aside and agree that we should do whatever we can legally do to reduce the terrible toll of serious illness and death the coronavirus is taking in our country.
TOM HOMAN: CORONAVIRUS SHOULDN’T FORCE ICE TO RELEASE DETAINED ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
The president’s action, announced March 20, requires Border Patrol agents to immediately send people entering our country illegally or seeking asylum from Mexico or Canada back to those countries, without being detained or processed.
With the vast majority of Americans now being required to shelter in place in their homes – and venture out only for food, medication and to carry out essential jobs – it would be a dereliction of duty for any president to fail to stop people who may be carrying the coronavirus from entering our country.
Keep in mind that President Trump has also ordered a halt to travelers who aren’t American citizens from entering the U.S. from many parts of the world. Many countries have placed a similar restriction on U.S. citizens, or required Americans to be quarantined for two weeks when entering.
None of these actions by any of these countries are an expression of hatred for foreigners. They are commonsense precautions against the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
At this writing, there are over 1.5 million confirmed cases of the COVID-19 globally, including more than 400,000 in the U.S. The disease has caused nearly 90,000 confirmed deaths around the world and nearly 15,000 in the U.S. Many experts say the number of people infected and killed is actually higher, because many cases have not been confirmed.
It’s important to understand that only about 10 percent of asylum seekers who cross our borders actually are granted asylum by our courts. Most don’t qualify for asylum under our laws or simply don’t show up in court for their asylum hearings.
Instead, until the new policy ordered by President Trump took effect, many were released into the U.S. population to await asylum hearings, creating the opportunity for those carrying the coronavirus or other diseases to infect others in the U.S.
The spread of disease happened when I was the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as migrants brought measles, chickenpox, lice, tuberculosis and other infections into the U.S. The same thing can happen with the coronavirus.
No president can ignore our immigration laws and regulations in the interest of pleasing advocates of open borders. To do so would inevitably result in more people falling ill and some of those people dying of COVID-19.
How many people crossing into our country are carrying the coronavirus? No one knows. It’s certainly not all of them, but it certainly must be some of them.
Every Border Patrol agent and Customs and Broder Protection port officer is exposed daily to many people from foreign lands. These federal law enforcement officers don’t have the option to quarantine. They don’t have the option to telecommute and work from home. They risk their personal safety and health every day and know they may take COVID-19 or another disease home to their families.
President Trump has made great decisions regarding these policies. But even though illegal border crossings have decreased substantially, we need to remain vigilant – now more than ever.
We don’t know how the coronavirus has affected Mexico. We also don’t know the number of people in Mexico who have already died from the coronavirus.
As in the U.S., in Mexico tests for the presence of the coronavirus are not routinely administered to most people who die, because there aren’t enough tests. Many people listed as dying of pneumonia or other diseases very likely died of COVID-19. In addition, vast numbers of Mexican nationals do not have access to any health care.
Also, as in the U.S. and countries around the world, the coronavirus is damaging Mexico’s economy. In addition to destroying jobs in Mexico, the virus is depriving many Mexican immigrants in the U.S. of their jobs, forcing them to reduce or stop sending money back to relatives in Mexico.
These payments from Mexicans in the U.S. to help support relatives in Mexico, known as remittances, amount to billions of dollars every year. The dramatic reductions in these payments now taking place may prompt more Mexicans to cross into the U.S. illegally to seek jobs to make up for the lost payments.
If the coronavirus pandemic and economic distress worsen in Mexico it could cause a sharp rise in illegal immigration from that country into the U.S. – meaning we will have to intensify efforts to maintain a secure border.
Illegal immigration by Mexican nationals accounted for 80 percent of all Border Patrol apprehensions in the 1980s and 1990s. However, that percentage dropped significantly as Mexico’s economy improved, while the number of Central Americans crossing into the U.S. illegally rose.
The coronavirus pandemic has already inundated much of the U.S. health care system, filling our hospitals beyond capacity and requiring health care professionals – including volunteers who have come out of retirement – to work long hours. Supplies of personal protective equipment and ventilators are dangerously low. We have to be concerned about adding any more pressure to the system by adding more illegal immigrants to the caseload of patients needing treatment.
Imagine what could happen in a place like El Paso, Texas – a small city of about 680,000 people that sits just north of Juarez, Mexico with a population of 1.5 million – if many sick people from Juarez cross the border seeking medical treatment.
It is only a matter of time before someone carrying the coronavirus will either be arrested by the Border Patrol or – worse yet – not be arrested and sneak into the U.S. In fact, there’s an excellent chance this has already happened an unknown number of times.
It has never been more important to secure our borders than right now. I’m glad we have President Trump in the Oval Office and tens of thousands of American patriots in Customs and Border Protection and ICE protecting our communities as best they can.
We must honor our front-line health care workers for the incredible job they are doing in our country and the sacrifices that they are making every day. At the same time, we can’t forget that the heroic work being performed by first responders in law enforcement – including not just police officers and firefighters, but the men and women of the Border Patrol and ICE who stand vigilant to protect our borders.
As always, we should hope for the best but prepare for the worse in terms of both the coronavirus pandemic and a possible surge in illegal immigration. Doing this is, quite literally a matter of life and death.
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When they meet those who believe, they say: "We believe;" but when they are alone with their evil ones, they say: "We are really with you: We (were) only jesting."Allah will throw back their mockery on them, and give them rope in their trespasses; so they will wander like blind ones (to and fro). (The Cow 14-15 )