Open borders?

Open borders?

This country can't handle all the people from other countries who want to live here.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel last week extended open arms to as many as 1,000 of the mostly young illegal immigrants who have been pouring across the U.S. border from Latin America.

He called his offer to provide shelter a response to a "growing humanitarian crisis that we can no longer ignore." It's not clear to exactly what Emanuel is referring when he suggests this country is ignoring the chaos on our borders. Indeed, this self-imposed disaster is holding the rapt attention of millions of Americans, particularly those in states most deeply affected.

But it seems obvious that what he considers to be a humanitarian response will only continue to make this problem grow ever larger. No one is talking about not housing and feeding these young people. Nonetheless, the more welcoming the United States appears to residents of other countries who want to live here, the more of them will try to sneak into this country.

The statistics are as alarming as they are undeniable. More than 50,000 illegal immigrant children have been detained by the United States in the past eight months — almost a 100 percent increase from the previous year. The U.S. Border Patrol reports that it's catching about 700 people a day in the Rio Grande Valley, 20 percent of them youngsters who are alone.

What once was a trickle has become a steady stream that will grow into a raging flood if this country does not act with dispatch to return them to their home countries.

Under U.S. law, young people who sneak into the this country from Mexico and Canada are in almost all instances returned immediately to their homelands.

That is not the case involving young people from other countries because of a 2008 law aimed at protecting children who may be subject to victimization by human traffickers.

The legislation, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, was passed without opposition because Democrats and Republicans almost unanimously agreed that it was necessary to take an extra step to address the egregious problem of exploited children. But it is instructive as well as eye-opening that Sen. Feinstein has stated that her law was never intended to, and does not, apply in current circumstances.

Nonetheless, the Obama administration has determined that these illegal immigrant children are entitled to hearings, a decision that would choke the system to the breaking point if attempted. That's not likely, however, because the overwhelming majority of those who are scheduled for a hearing are released from custody in the interim and don't show up when their case is called.

In other words, what's billed as a system designed to deal with this problem really amounts to an open-borders policy.

Logistical and humanitarian issues aside, President Obama obviously believes that his approach has strong political appeal to his most enthusiastic supporters, and he's opposed to clarifying the intent of the 2008 law. Others suggest that the 50,000 to 100,000 children who enter the country illegally should be welcomed with open arms because they can be easily absorbed into our society.

The first 50,000 can be absorbed. So can the next 50,000. But word gets around. Millions more will come when it becomes known, as to a considerable degree it already has, that all that's necessary to live permanently in this country is to sneak across the border.

That all of this is illegal appears to be beside the point. U.S. immigration laws forbid most of what's happening, but those laws are not being enforced or are being enforced in such a way as to assure their failure.

People from all over the world want to be here, and they'll come if they believe that violating our laws will get the job done. Right now, they've been given every reason to think that is the case, and the consequences are on display at what used to be described as our southern borders.

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