(The author is a Latino consultant for American Values 2024)
New York: Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., backed by the American Values Super PAC, has unveiled 15 priorities that will be implemented as soon as he assumes the presidency in 2024. One of these priorities is what he has termed the “HUMANITARIAN CRISIS AT THE SOUTHERN BORDER.”Kennedy visited the Yuma region in Arizona in early June, meeting with migrants, law enforcement officers, border patrols, farmers, healthcare professionals, government officials, humanitarian workers, and community members.
Bobby Kennedy conducted this visit with the aim of firsthand investigation into the root causes of the border crisis, as a surge of immigrants overwhelmed resources in cities as far-reaching as New York. He then premiered “Midnight at the Border,” a 19-minute documentary about his border visit, where he addresses solutions to the issues caused by the Biden administration.
Focusing on the context covered in this documentary, let’s delve into part of the content of this article, as it encapsulates Kennedy’s proposals and addresses his response to the collapse of the immigration system.
“Throughout history, many politicians have also discussed the border issue. They talk about xenophobia, racism, nationalism, or all other types of demagogic alchemy. I address this problem from a different place, from a different perspective. My perspective is compassion, humanitarianism, and common sense,” RFK Jr. begins in the mentioned documentary.
Bobby Kennedy argues that we must recognize that the primary victims of a porous and chaotic border are the immigrants themselves. Compassion and decency demand that we not allow the current situation to continue. He suggests that ruthless criminal cartels have intertwined drugs, immigration, and human trafficking into a billion-dollar business. The Biden administration’s policy has dramatically exacerbated the situation. The border is out of control, and immigration is being managed by the cartels, not by our government.
“A country cannot exist if it cannot secure its borders. No more than a cell can exist if it does not have a coherent membrane. I am the type of person who thinks that borders are two of the definitions of our country. AND WE NEED TO CLOSE “We need a high fence; we need to close the gates; we need to change our immigration policy so that it is consistent so that it makes sense and serves the interests of our country at this moment,” Kennedy continues to explain in the documentary.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. proposed that his government implement an immigration policy based on three pillars.
While the Biden administration has lost control of the border with Mexico due to measures implemented in three years that have collapsed the U.S. immigration system preceding the populism of an electoral campaign promising a radical change on immigration and a “humanization” of migration, Robert F. Kennedy proposes objective solutions that would end all the scourges that have deteriorated the immigration system.
The Foundation of Kennedy’s proposals rests on three pillars:
- Controlling the border.
- Working with other countries to stop the influx of immigrants.
- Fully fund and prioritize administrative infrastructure for legal and orderly immigration to this country.
Mexican cartels control the southern border.
“The New York Times published an article saying that 90,000 immigrants had arrived in New York from this massive flow. Seven million immigrants in the last three years have entered illegally. Compare that with the 3.1 million who entered legally during that time. So, twice the amount of immigration is coming illegally. We have outsourced that function to Mexican drug cartels who are making billions of dollars controlling U.S. immigration policy. And all the carefully constructed immigration policy we have in our country makes no sense because drug cartels are deciding who enters and who doesn’t among immigrants. The New York Times article talked about how the tsunami of new immigrants, 90,000 people, was overwhelming social services systems in New York City. Bloomberg recently published an article about how New York City officials are now overwhelmed. Central Park is turning into an outdoor migrant facility. So, this is the level of crisis we are talking about,” Kennedy said in the mentioned documentary.
On December 23, about 7,000 immigrants left Tapachula in southern Mexico in a caravan they called the “Exodus of Poverty,” heading towards the northern border. Many of the migrants are from Central and South America, the Caribbean, Cuba, and Haiti, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told CNN. According to the CBP, encounters with migrants continue to fluctuate as traffickers and other criminals spread misinformation to attract migrants to cross illegally.
“They are fleeing the inhumane; the only hope of these people is to leave, draw attention, and say that we are alive. All we want is to work. All we want is documents to move forward,” said Luis Villagran, one of the caravan organizers.
“We are afraid to speak… We have economic needs. We have a dream to work honestly. What can I tell you? Unfortunately, we live in a corrupt government,” said Benigno Sánchez, a Cuban migrant, to CNN.
“As a reward for the sacrifice they are making, he hopes that ‘God will give them the miracle of crossing’ to the United States,” said Aida Peña, a member of the caravan, “Exodus of Poverty,” from El Salvador to CNN.
Robert Kennedy had expressed concern about expanding the humanitarian crisis to cities as far from the border as New York. Now, more than 19,000 immigrants have been expelled from New York City since March of last year through a travel ticket purchase program that has cost the city over $4.6 million, according to data from Mayor Eric Adams’s office, has earned the disapproval of the Biden administration for these decisions. Administration officials confirmed to CNN that 3,500 migrant families and their children have received notices since the city began sending them in October.
“It took me three days to understand what was happening at the border when I went there because it was so strange. When people cross, many have no money. They have been stripped of their money by the cartels. One of the things that happens to immigrants is being robbed, exploited, extorted, raped. We heard people talk about kidnappings, which are endemic at the border, human trafficking, child trafficking, and smuggling of all drugs. All that is crossing, and then the destruction, this assault on the local community where people were telling us they didn’t let their children out during the day because they couldn’t lead a normal life, because they feared these strangers running through their yard, fleeing from the Border Patrol. We visited a local hospital; the people of Yuma were, as I said, the representatives, the best of our country. The hospital director said he had lost $27 million the previous year in unreimbursed expenses in caring for migrants,” resonates the distinctive voice of RFK Jr. in the documentary.
The estimated figure of unauthorized migrants of 10.5 million may fall short.
According to the Pew Research Center, between 2016 and 2019, there may have been a decrease in illegal migration in the United States. However, the study does not specify that it is known that this was due to anti-immigrant policies implemented by President Donald Trump.
According to the graphs, the June 2019 estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population decreased from 10.7 million in 2016 to 10.5 million in 2017. However, the study doesn’t attribute this decrease to a natural decline, considering the margin of error too wide. Although the margin of error for the American Community Survey (ACS) is considerably smaller than that of the Current Population Survey (CPS), the apparent 200,000 difference between 2016 and 2017 falls within the margin of error.
According to the Pew Research Center, the total number of unauthorized immigrants was 10,500,000 in 2017. These figures represent a minority of the foreign-born population, 44,500,000 in 2017. Forty-five percent were naturalized citizens, and 27 percent were legal permanent residents.
Official figures from U.S. Customs and Border Protection suggest that the efforts to curb undocumented immigration at the borders with Mexico and Canada are ineffective. In September, the last month of fiscal year 2023, federal agents recorded 341,392 encounters, the highest of the year. In October, the first month of fiscal year 2024, there were 309,221 arrests, surpassing the numbers for the same month in fiscal years 2021 to 2023. Of the 341,392 encounters in September nationwide, 269,735 (79%) occurred at the Mexico border. The latest estimate by the Immigration Statistics Office covering January 1, 2015, to 2018, indicates 11,960,000 undocumented immigrants in the United States.
The article also discusses the trafficking of fentanyl and methamphetamine across the Mexico border.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. addresses this issue in his proposals to tackle the migration crisis, emphasizing the connection between drug trafficking and undocumented immigrants.
Kennedy highlights the negative impact of illegal migration on American workers. He argues that the influx of undocumented workers depresses wages and working conditions for American workers, as employers can exploit these vulnerable individuals who lack bargaining power.
Kennedy acknowledges that immigration is beneficial for the country but emphasizes the need to address illegal and disorderly migration, which harms both immigrants and American workers. He advocates for ending unjustified asylum claims and tackling illegal migration simultaneously.
Kennedy proposes solutions, suggesting that while physical barriers may not be necessary everywhere, technological measures such as towers, cameras, lights, and ground sensors can effectively secure the borders. He emphasizes the importance of the political will and resources to implement these measures and process legal asylum seekers efficiently.
Ending Deceptive Asylum Requests
Kennedy proposes funding for courts, services, and border agencies to facilitate legal immigration by U.S. law. He suggests denying access to those who do not comply and appointing more judges to handle asylum cases. Unfortunately, few asylum judges process even legitimate political refugee applications. Kennedy argues that if political asylum seekers knew their cases would be heard quickly and deceptive requests met with swift deportation, cartel business models would fail.
“There are 1.6 million immigrants in the United States awaiting their asylum hearings. Less than 15% will be approved. We need to appoint hundreds more judges to address this delay and ensure newly arrived immigrants get a hearing before being admitted to the United States. It’s a common-sense solution that can transcend partisan rancor. Democrats will support a speedy review of asylum requests so we can meet our humanitarian obligations. Republicans will support ending the flow of millions of unheard asylum seekers into the United States under their responsibility. Migrants will know that their case will be heard at the border and will not be allowed to pass unless approved. Deciding to spend a lifetime of savings and risking injury, rape, and death to make this journey is the most important decision in the lives of most immigrants. They don’t make such decisions in a vacuum. We must warn them that we are hiring hundreds more judges and that they can no longer expect to be allowed into the country due to judicial delays,” states Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Kennedy’s Long-Term Approach
RFK Jr. is convinced that beyond the immediate border crisis, there is a long-term immigration crisis due to lack of leadership, poor planning, little or no diplomacy, economic exploitation, and the inability to envision a cooperative regional approach. “We can control the border, but migratory pressure will not decrease until we change the conditions that make so many people desperate to flee their home countries. Unfortunately, the United States has contributed to these conditions. As President, RFK Jr. will change that by implementing a new type of Good Neighbor policy, starting in this hemisphere.”
In this regard, Kennedy proposed that his government would end military adventurism that destabilized other nations and generated millions of refugees, as seen in Syria and Iraq, which sent millions of immigrants to Europe. The current influx of weapons to Ukraine creates waves of instability across the continent.
“Stop supporting despotic governments, juntas, coups, death squads, and repressive regimes that persecute and impoverish their people. The United States will cease to oppose governments seeking agrarian reforms, labor reforms, and social welfare for their people. These create a desperate and miserable population prone to fleeing their homeland in search of a better life,” Kennedy suggests.
“We will pursue a different trade and economic policy. Decades of neoliberal austerity measures will end. The United States will no longer encourage financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank to demand that developing nations destroy their social programs, privatize public assets, and eliminate environmental and labor protections. We will reform the financial regime that keeps countries in the global South subject to overwhelming debts that create poverty and prompt millions of people to flee northward,” Kennedy proposes in his statements.