One of the arguments I’m hearing a lot from Trump bootlickers is that if someone wants to apply for asylum in the U.S., they have to present themselves at an official border crossing to do so. This is absolutely false. Federal law is quite explicit on this question. It’s in the very first paragraph of the section of the U.S. Code (Title 8, Sec. 1158) governing asylum applications:
“Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum in accordance with this section or, where applicable, section 1225(b) of this title.”
And therein lies the problem with the entire “they’re just enforcing the law” argument. They are, in fact, not enforcing the law. If they were actually doing so, they would follow the same procedures that the Bush and Obama administrations followed when someone applied for asylum, which is that they assigned them a case manager and set a date for an administrative hearing on that status. They also advised them of their right to have an attorney present for that hearing and to help them with the entire process, though the government does not pay for such an attorney. Less than 40% of all asylum seekers have legal representation, and only 14% of those who are detained pending their hearings have attorneys.
The problem here, as I’ve stated repeatedly, is with the zero tolerance policy instituted by Trump and Sessions. If they treated asylum seekers the same way previous administrations did and allowed the asylym process to play itself out without filing criminal charges, there would be no need to take children away and there was a near 100% rate of showing up for their hearings. And guess what? That’s also far less expensive because we don’t have to pay to house and feed them. Trump is actually spending more money — a lot more money — in order to separate families, and we get absolutely nothing positive for having done so.