The Civil Rights Commission’s dishonest report on immigration detention

Donald Trump has been president for going on three years. Yet the U.S. Civil Rights Commission remains under the control of leftists who use it as a platform dishonestly to attack Trump’s policies.

I hope this will change in January, when President Trump has the opportunity to appoint two members. In the meantime, the Civil Rights Commission remains a playground for his enemies on the far left.

Consider the report the Commission issued last week on immigration detention facilities called “Trauma at the Border: The Human Cost of Inhumane Immigration Policies.” It is a misleading and dishonest document. Peter Kirsanow, a commissioner who dissented from the report, provides the details at NRO. (See also the dissent of his fellow commissioner Gail Heriot).

Kirsanow points out that the commissioners didn’t even visit a detention facility. Their outrage is based solely on media reports and a public comment hearing in Washington, D.C. attended primarily by immigration advocates. In fact, the Commission received testimony from only three former detainees, two of whom complained of treatment they received during the Obama Administration.

The report also slights our Border Patrol. It asserts that children “die in detention,” while ignoring the fact that Border Patrol agents sought medical care for children as soon as they showed signs of illness. For example, in one case in which a child arrived at the border with a congenital heart defect, she was given medical care and surgery at two hospitals.

Kirsanow also objects that the Commission has willfully misunderstood and mischaracterized asylum claims, the context in which detention arises. The report, he says, assumes that an asylum claim means ‘my home country isn’t the best place to live or the U.S. is better than my home country.’ Actually, this is not grounds for asylum as a matter of law.


The report also ignores the fact that most of those who initially pass a credible fear screening (which starts the asylum process) aren’t ultimately granted asylum. And only 44.5 percent of those who pass an initial credible fear screening even bother showing up in court to press their asylum claim. The majority simply vanish into the interior of the country, never to be seen again.

Kirsanow is correct, therefore, when he says in his dissent:

The short version of this report is that there is nothing the government can do, short of immediately admitting every person who presents himself at the southern border, with no regard to whether this person will ever resurface for an immigration hearing or report for removal if ordered removed, that will satisfy the Commission majority (or, for that matter, the judicial #Resistance). Metering to allow only a certain number of people in at a time, so as not to overwhelm Border Patrol facilities? No! It encourages people to cross illegally (which of course is the fault of the U.S., not the people crossing illegally.) Remain in Mexico until your asylum claim is adjudicated? Absolutely not! Safe third country agreement with Guatemala? How dare you even suggest such a thing!

In sum, the Commission’s report is an agenda-driven document, not a genuine attempt to analyze detention facilities and policy. Were it otherwise, the commissioners would have visited facilities and taken more testimony.

As Kirsanow says, “no one should take this report seriously.”

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.