US and Canadian Immigration lawyer Andy Semotiuk: The immigration crisis at the southern border of the United States simply demands that immediate steps be taken to restrain the flow of illegal immigrants into the US.

The ultimate issue is whether Americans or foreigners will decide who does and who does not get to enter the United States.Consider this: according to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, there are 15 million refugees in the world today looking for a place to call home. There are a further 27 million displaced persons with no place to live. That is a lot of humanity looking for a safe place to sleep at night. Almost all of them would probably like to be on the bow of a ship to read this message written on the Statue of Liberty:Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Despite this message, I doubt there would be many in the United States who would argue that America should give sanctuary to just anyone who shows up on its borders, no matter how they got there.

The problem is not the American people’s accepting of immigration itself. No one should accuse the US of heartlessness when it comes to immigration. Since 2007, over 1 million people per year have obtained legal permanent residence status in the United States. Since 1986, the US has passed seven amnesties for illegal immigrants, totalling millions of people.
The problem right now is the rising tide of illegal immigration and the humanitarian crisis that is overwhelming the US/Mexican border.

Help Mexico seal off its southern border with any American funds, material and manpower necessary.​ The US should especially focus on the trains heading to the border.

There is no doubt that America needs to stem this tide of humanity that is already almost out of control. But how?Here are some thoughts.1. Find out from the people coming who is paying for their travel costs to come up from Central America through Mexico to the United States. Interview them about the reasons for their migration and address those reasons. Take measures in collaboration with Mexico and Central American countries to cut off that supply of funds and address the reasons for the influx.

2. Form a joint Mexican-American task force to police the border. Arrange with Mexico at American expense to house illegal immigrants to the U.S. on the Mexican side of the border. Maintain them there until their cases are heard by U.S. immigration judges who can then decide which immigrants should be allowed into America. Arrest all coyotes helping migrants cross the border and give them stiff sentences. Make them particularly vulnerable with the help of the Mexican authorities.

3. Help Mexico seal off its southern border with any American funds, material and manpower necessary.​ The US should especially focus on the trains heading to the border:

There’s a network of freight trains that runs the length of Mexico, from its southernmost border with Guatemala north to the United States. In addition to grain, corn or scrap metal, these trains are carrying an increasing number of undocumented immigrants whose aim is to cross into the U.S.

La Bestia. (Photo: AP)

And despite the many deadly challenges it poses, more and more children — both with adults and alone — have been making the risky journey. That prompted President Obama this week to warn of “an urgent humanitarian situation.”

These aren’t passenger trains; there are no panoramic windows, seats or even a roof to guard from sun or rain. People call the train La Bestia, or The Beast. Some call it the Death Train.

It’s estimated that up to a half-million migrants now ride The Beast each year, sitting back-to-back along the spine of the train cars, trying not to get knocked off their rooftop perch.

Rather than waiting for illegal immigrants to make it all the way to the Texas and Arizona borders before doing anything to stop them, Washington should put pressure on the Mexican government to interdict the trains at their source, arrest all the people riding on top, and send them back to Central America.4. Adopt a policy of penalizing those who help the migrants leave Central America by helping those countries round up and penalize them. Use financial aid to Central American countries to help them stem this flow of migrants by helping them get their economies moving and providing new jobs to those who want them.5. Make every effort to stop people from entering the U.S., since once they are in the country they gain legal rights unavailable to them from outside, such as the right to counsel.

6. Develop a triage system to expedite removal of those who should be deported and arrange hearings for those who merit them on the basis of asylum or humanitarian considerations.

7. Adopt comprehensive immigration reform to make it easier for those who apply legally to immigrate to the United States than for those who come illegally.

In today’s political climate, bother foreign and domestic, none of the above will be easy. But neither will it be easy to feed, clothe and house the thousands of people that are coming over the border each month.

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