Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Sgt. Mark Otte/National Guard
The deployment of thousands of active-duty troops to the U.S.-Mexico border seeks to provide a shock-and-awe solution to a situation that will not be solved by bombast. The migrant caravans and arrivals more generally of Central American families and children do not represent a national security threat or crisis.
Instead, they epitomize the changed reality at the U.S.-Mexico border: Flows once primarily of young Mexican men seeking economic opportunity have been replaced by more complex, mixed humanitarian and economic flows of predominately Central Americans. Determining who has a legitimate protection claim is the challenge of current era.
In a new commentary, Migration Policy Institute Senior Fellow Doris Meissner, who oversaw the last reform of the U.S. asylum system in the 1990s, makes the case for a more effective solution than troop deployments.
Common-sense fixes to the U.S. asylum system that would allow swifter, fair decisions on asylum claims would send a signal to would-be migrants that those who do not qualify for protection will not succeed in remaining in the United States, she argues. "This is what constitutes meaningful deterrence."
“There is another path that preserves the opportunity to provide humanitarian protection while also discouraging unfounded asylum claims and the formation of caravans as a new migration pattern in our region,” Meissner writes. “This path requires immediate, near-, and longer-term actions that should begin with changes to the U.S. asylum system, which is, indeed, in crisis in the face of growing backlogs of cases that take years to complete.”