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SAUNDERS: The southern border is the big issue for 2024

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump has a new cause, “migrant crime,” and a new slogan, “Stop Biden’s Border Bloodbath,” as he noted during a speech in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

It doesn’t take a pollster to see why. Just turn on cable news and watch the frequent skirmishes at the southwest border. You quickly realize that U.S. immigration enforcement is outnumbered and under-supported.

Over Easter weekend, a clash between migrants and Border Patrol agents along the Rio Grande made the news. Not so much because the Texas Department of Public Safety charged some 220 people, according to the El Paso Times, but because Magistrate Judge Humberto Acosta ordered them released on their own recognizance.

President Joe Biden has made it clear that he’s fine with keeping migrants in the country when they don’t qualify for asylum, so illegal border crossers behave accordingly. They know time is on their side.

Rather than stop the surge, the Biden White House is focused on blaming Republicans for not passing a bipartisan immigration bill. Everyone knows that progressive politics and border enforcement don’t mix.

You don’t have to buy Trump’s rhetoric — it’s just plain gratuitous when the former president refers to criminal illegal migrants as “animals” — to be concerned that American generosity is being pushed to the limit.

Those coming to the United States looking for jobs and an improved qualify of life unwittingly serve as shields for cartels and repeat criminals looking for easy targets.

Jessica Vaughan, director of policy research for the pro-enforcement Center for Immigration Studies, warned that America is experiencing “historic levels of illegal migration.” Many new arrivals have evaded the Border Patrol and haven’t been screened. We don’t know who they are.

Biden can’t escape the story. During his State of the Union address, the president mentioned Laken Riley, a Georgia nursing student murdered in February. A Venezuelan migrant has been charged with her death.

In Michigan, Trump also spoke of Ruby Garcia, 25, of Grand Rapids, who was killed in March. Her boyfriend, a Mexican migrant who was deported in 2020 yet still managed to return to the United States, reportedly confessed to the crime.

Trump won the White House in 2016 after he seized on the 2015 shooting death of San Franciscan Kate Steinle by a repeat offender from Mexico. That awful crime put San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” status in the spotlight — and it was not a good look.

Vaughan told me the U.S. border is “wide open;” career criminals know that “they can get through illegally without being detected and live here and hide here. The open border has attracted criminals from all over the hemisphere.”

If Vaughan is right, America is becoming South America’s South America.

Contact Review-Journal columnist Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com. Follow @debrajsaunders on X.

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