2022 is the worst year on record yet for deaths of migrants at the border, with over 600 bodies recovered by CBP. It’s a significant humanitarian crisis.

In response to the uptick in deaths and illegal crossings, governors in Texas and Arizona have started busing illegal immigrants directly to Washington D.C. and New York City to send a message about the challenges and to force ‘sanctuary cities’ to now contend with the cost of social services for all of them. The influx of illegal immigrants has grown to the point where the D.C. mayor has called for the national guard to help.

It’s hard not to feel a bit of satisfying schadenfreude because it’s one of the few instances where distant policymakers and bureaucrats making—or failing to make—immigration policy have to experience the costs, in their cities, of their failure to secure the border. But in a broader sense, almost every state is already experiencing the high price of drug overdose deaths from the flow of drugs across the border and the tragedy of human trafficking.

The Biden administration, seemingly, wants to make ‘every town a border town’ an enduring fact of American life by creating new, permanent institutions all over the country that support the quasi-legal, quasi-illegal status of immigrants.

In our own backyard, the DHS is opening a center in Greensboro to house immigrant children. In the Trump years, this would have been called a detention center, but now that the ‘good and the great’ are in power, it’s a campus for education. The implicit expectation is that children will remain in the system for years, and as such, they’ll need to become wards of the federal government while they wait to be reunited with their families.

This is a revealing example of so much wrong with the DHS and federal immigration policy. For starters, the system to determine whether someone is actually seeking asylum, or just trying to get a pass to stay in the country, is so broken that there are hundreds of thousands of people waiting to appear before a judge, with an expected wait time of four and a half years. A system that thinks that the right course of action is to keep children separated from their families and under the federal government’s care for such long periods is not a functional system.  

Moreover, it’s a continuation of a trend of federal immigration authorities not engaging with local leaders and running roughshod over the state’s elected representatives. As a spokesperson for Guilford county noted, “since it’s all federally run, our knowledge is fairly limited here in the County Manager’s Office.” Since when did localities have to cede their power to the federal government to accommodate illegal activity? 

Part of this is a general attitude of secrecy, with little revealed about how long the average child will be there or how much the taxpayers are paying for the facility, and part of this is avoiding congressional oversight. Representative Richard Hudson, R-NC, asked the secretary of the DHS directly if they had plans to build such a center in N.C., was told no, only for this to be revealed a year later to be precisely the plan

U.S. Reps. Richard Hudson, R-8th (left), and Ted Budd R-13th, at a May 2, 2018, roundtable (CJ photo by Kari Travis)

 “In a June 23 letter sent to federal officials, eight congressional Republicans from North Carolina expressed concerns about the facility, calling it “a complete surprise to us and our constituents.”

The root problem of federal immigration policy is a conscious choice to strategically not enforce the law. The costs are borne by our local towns and, in this case, by the children caught up in these political games.

The establishment of the center in Greensboro violates common sense. It separates kids from their families, does so hundreds of miles away from their point of separation, and deepens the tragedy at the border instead of addressing it. Policies like these make most Americans scratch their head and wonder what their elected leaders are thinking. 

This wrongheaded policy and so many others are why I started CommonSense NC; an organization meant to educate and rally the public against actions by our government that violate good sense and should be eliminated or changed. There are many uses for the facility in Greensboro; housing illegal immigrant children should not be one of them. Of course, this isn’t the children’s fault, but it is the fault of a government-run amuck. It’s time to return to common sense solutions; in this case, securing the border and halting the pipeline of illegal immigrants to every state and locality, and stopping them from entering the country illegally in the first place.

Ben Goldhaber is a North Carolinian entrepreneur and small business owner. Previously he’s worked at startups and nonprofits that improve student choice and access, including creating lessons for N.C. students that teach American Civics rooted in our nation’s founding principles. His writing has been featured on nationalreview.com and other conservative publications, and was an intern at John Locke Foundation during the mid-2000s.