Few politicians in America better embody the label “immigration hardliner” than former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. As a member of the president’s voter fraud committee, Kobach was intent of getting to the bottom of any cheating that may have given Hillary Clinton an unfair advantage in the 2016 election (until the committee was disbanded due to the states’ refusal to cooperate). He has advocated for a citizenship question to be added to the U.S. Census. And he’s a proud member of a group that is trying to build a southern border wall with donations and other sources of private capital.
But Kobach recognizes the fact that even the greatest wall ever built will only do so much to solve the real problems plaguing the southern border. As long as the Trump administration is continuing to rely on the old “catch and release” policies, illegal immigrants can disappear into the shadows of the U.S., ignore their scheduled court hearings, and avoid deportation for as long as they can keep their heads down. Considering the enormous swell of migrants currently pummeling the border, it is clear that such a policy can only lead to disaster.
In an interview with Fox News this week, Kobach laid out his plan to end “catch and release” for good and thus strip a great deal of the incentive these Central American migrants have to come to this country in the first place.
“One of the problems we have right now is because the system is so overloaded in terms of detention space, we’ve maxed out on the detention space we have,” Kobach said. “We have to think creatively and make additional space, because if we don’t then all these people who are claiming asylum — they suddenly make the claim and then they suddenly disappear into the fabric of the United States, never to be seen again.”
Kobach said that we should be taking advantage of the Pentagon’s willingness to help find a solution to the problem.
“My point was we should have processing centers either at U.S. military bases or other facilities where we bring in the thousands upon thousands of trailer homes that FEMA still has,” he said. “Let’s use them to solve this crisis so that we can keep people in comfortable living conditions but instead of just turning them loose and never to be seen again, let’s process their asylum claim quickly.”
Kobach noted the obvious, which is that migrants who have legitimate asylum claims will be glad to see their applications go through the system quickly. And those who don’t…well, they shouldn’t be in this country to begin with. By holding them in expanded detention centers, agents will be able to deport them efficiently without risking the possibility that they might disappear into the shadows.
Kobach’s ideas are sound, but their success will depend in part on the Democrats’ willingness to allocate money that can be used to expedite the asylum process. If they are determined to obstruct – if they are determined to keep “catch and release” on the policy books, in other words – then Trump is caught between a rock and a hard place. Which is, of course, exactly where the Democrats want to keep him.