I’m a Venezuelan refugee, and I want secure borders

Photo: Washington Examiner


Nobody understands the plight of political refugees better than those of us who escaped repressive socialist regimes. I grew up in Venezuela , which has long been ruled by socialist strongmen who run the country like their own personal fiefdom and think nothing of jailing, torturing, and even killing anybody who dares to speak out against their illegal regime. But even I am outraged by the flood of illegal immigrants taking advantage of the current administration’s lax border enforcement to flout the law of the very country they are seeking to make their new home.

By Washington Examiner – Maria Bello

Mar 23, 2023

February marked the 24th consecutive month with at least 150,000 apprehensions at the southern border, an all-time record. Since President Joe Biden took office, more than 6 million people have entered this country illegally, including at least 1.3 million “gotaways” who escaped the Border Patrol (a figure that officials say likely undercounts the true number by about 20%).

Despite the Biden administration’s repeated insistence that the border is “secure,” U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz recently told Congress that the U.S. government does not have “operational control” of the southern border. As a U.S. citizen, that admission is terrifying. As a legal immigrant, it’s infuriating. And as a refugee, it’s insulting to listen as leftists try to justify continued inaction by suggesting that a meaningful percentage of the people who are crossing the border illegally are merely seeking “asylum” from political persecution.

I guess I was born without the type of survival instincts that allow people to keep their heads down and their mouths shut in the face of such gross injustice. As a teenager, I spoke out in public against the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro regimes. When I was 17, I was forced to flee the country to escape persecution. Luckily, I was able to immigrate — legally — to the United States.

So I know exactly what it means to be a political refugee seeking asylum, with my life literally at stake. I also know that the overwhelming majority of the people trying to claim asylum in the United States these days are not facing anywhere near the type of threat that I faced. Most are economic refugees — they’re seeking a better life for themselves and their families, which is admirable, but it doesn’t make them true refugees.

Unfortunately, the Biden administration has sent a message to would-be immigrants all over the world that it doesn’t matter which reasons they cite — they can enter the country without consequence and openly ignore América’s immigration laws. And if they are caught, they can claim asylum and be granted free entry into the country.

The response has been predictable: illegal immigrants have flooded into the country claiming “asylum,” only to disappear into the Heartland and take advantage of material assistance from the federal government. The number of immigrants who have entered the country in just two short years is staggering, and it’s unsustainable.

Adjusting to life in a new country, with a new language, new laws, and new customs, is not an easy thing to do. It’s even harder when state and local authorities are unable to provide personalized assistance because they’re overwhelmed by the number of asylum-seekers trying to make the same transition all at once. We’re not doing ourselves a service, and we’re not doing the immigrants a service, by trying to take in more of them than we can reasonably process.

We need to start enforcing our immigration laws responsibly. It’s the best thing for América, and it’s the best thing for the immigrants.

Read More: Washington Examiner – I’m a Venezuelan refugee, and I want secure borders

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