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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.
News / Opinion / Columns

Kent: Democrats hypocritical on border

By Joe Kent
Published: March 2, 2024, 6:01am

Under President Joe Biden’s lax border policies, with Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez as a willing accomplice, our borders have become a welcome mat for illegal immigrants, exacerbating the fentanyl crisis and compromising our national security.

Despite Perez’s previous assertion that “no one stays awake at night over the southern border” and her opposition to a Republican bill aimed at securing the border last year, election-year pressures have prompted a sudden, superficial shift in her stance. The H.R. 7372 bill, which she now endorses, is a toothless gesture, laden with loopholes, especially for those claiming asylum — a process so widely exploited under Biden’s administration that it essentially grants automatic entry into the United States.

Migrants are coached on social media on precisely what to say upon entering the U.S., a strategy codified in the text of Perez’s bill. It states, “The Secretary of Homeland Security may not expel an alien to a country if the alien’s life or freedom would be threatened in such country because of the alien’s race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion; or there are substantial grounds for believing that the alien would be in danger of being subjected to torture if expelled to such country.” Once this claim is made, the U.S. government cannot expel the alien, and they are given access to asylum lawyers, allowing them up to eight years in the U.S. to pursue their asylum claim, turning asylum into a de facto visa.

Previously, asylum seekers were required to make their claims from a third country before being granted access to the U.S., enabling immigration officers to vet the individuals and their asylum claims more thoroughly. This process was in place when I assisted several Iraqis who had risked their lives for the U.S. military in Iraq to obtain asylum in the U.S. between 2011 and 2015. Despite years of working, living and fighting alongside us, they were required to go to a third country for vetting before finally being granted visas to the U.S.

The current influx of migrants knows exactly what to say upon entering the U.S., seeking out border patrol immediately rather than evading them. I observed this behavior first hand several weeks ago when I visited the border just east of San Diego. I saw hundreds of migrants, primarily from China and the Middle East, crossing the border where the wall ends and immediately seeking out border patrol officers to claim asylum.

This legislation epitomizes Democratic hypocrisy and mismanagement. It professes to strengthen our borders, yet it fails to address the glaring asylum loophole or to provide any tangible means of physical border reinforcement. Instead, it diverts a staggering sum overseas and lines the pockets of the military-industrial complex, all while our own border security suffers.

In essence, the bill is a clear betrayal of American values and security, indicating that Democrats are more invested in satisfying defense contractors and foreign interests than in protecting American citizens. The solution is straightforward: Bring back the previous rules for asylum claims. That solution was part of H.R. 2, which Perez voted against. Unlike her, if I’m given the privilege to represent the people of Washington’s 3rd District, I’ll deliver real legislation like H.R. 2 that solves the border crisis that is threatening our families and creating a humanitarian disaster.

Joe Kent is a candidate for representative from Washington’s 3rd Congressional District.