Americans have been sending people to Washington for decades with hardened ideas to stop the crisis of illegal immigration along our southern border. We’ve tried increasing patrols, fences, drones and the National Guard. Nothing has worked. And the influx of migrants from Central America through our porous border over the past several years have brought our defenses to the breaking point. That’s why, to the great consternation of official Washington, President Trump tossed out the old playbook on how to defend our southern border and took the fight to Mexico.
New statistics released Wednesday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection revealed that arrests at the border surpassed 144,000 in May – a 32 percent jump from April and a 13-year record high. May was the third month in a row that arrests reached over 100,000 – a clear indication that the crisis is deepening. President Trump correctly recognized that Mexican leaders have the power to reduce the pressure on our shared border, but have never shown an interest in stopping the flow of migrants coming through their country in hopes of crossing into the United States illegally.
Mexico clearly thought that this president was like all the rest before him – leaders who pay lip service to enforcing border security, but fail to take substantive action. They were wrong.
President Trump’s threat to impose a 5 percent tariff on Mexican imports forced our neighbor to start acting like the close friend and ally that it should be. With the possibility of steadily increasing tariffs to as high as 25 percent that would have decimated its economy, Mexico blinked.
Thousands of Mexican troops are now being deployed to the Mexican-Guatemalan border. Mexico has also pledged to dismantle the human-smuggling networks that have created a humanitarian crisis and share information about migrants more closely with American officials.
The president’s idea was bold. It was smart. It was innovative. And it worked.
Congress has consistently been out of step with the American people in its disapproval of the president’s border security policies. It wagged its fingers at the president when he declared the border crisis a national emergency. It dragged down his efforts to build the wall. And it piled scorn on the White House for enforcing the laws it passed. But today, the lobbyists and their allies on Capitol Hill who opposed the president’s strategy are surely feeling chastised.
Enough is enough. Results matter. Members of both parties should admit the president was successful and line up behind him. But old habits are hard to break and change may be slow in coming.