As a former Texas prosecutor, Sidney Powell has seen some of the disturbing consequences of bad immigration policy.
Powell sees loopholes in the U.S. immigration system that encourage child trafficking and help funnel millions of dollars to drug cartels. In our interview, she talks about the ease of fraudulent asylum claims, activist judges, caravans, an overwhelming backlog of immigration cases, as well as diversionary tactics and what she calls trojan horses, which all contribute to a broken immigration system.
To deal with this, Powell encourages a harsh medicine: a temporary halt to all immigration while the administration can bring everything under control.
Sidney Powell was the lead counsel in more than 500 appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. She’s also the author of “License to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.”
Jan Jekielek: President Donald Trump has described the porous southern border as a humanitarian crisis, as a national crisis. You had some personal experience from what I understand with illegal immigration from years back. Can you flesh that out a little for us?
Sidney Powell: Yes, definitely. I was a federal prosecutor in the Western District of Texas. We had more than 600 miles of border in the Western District of Texas alone. We saw all manner and means of crime coming across the border on a daily basis. It was absolutely astounding, and this was several decades ago now. It has only gotten worse. It’s beyond capacity for the Border Patrol to handle it at this point, and we absolutely must have the fence and barricades that the president has talked about. It has made a huge difference in El Paso where there’s fencing. It’s made a huge difference in San Diego where there’s fencing, and it protects the Border Patrol agents themselves from immediate and direct contact, except when they’re prepared to have it.
Mr. Jekielek: So your personal experience was that where this fencing or wall existed, there was a reduction in crime?
Ms. Powell: Oh, definitely. Yes. There’s much greater security where there is a fence. And it gives the Border Patrol agents a chance to prepare for whatever it is they need to deal with. And it controls and funnels the traffic to where they can deal with it.
Mr. Jekielek: I’m going to jump to the main topic for today, which is loopholes in the immigration system. I want to get your thoughts on these areas. It’s generally agreed that there are many loopholes that basically allow, to some extent, unchecked illegal immigration. What are your thoughts on what the biggest of these loopholes are?
Ms. Powell: Well there’s several huge loopholes. One is the asylum provision that lets people just make blanket claims of needs for asylum. And, of course, [former] Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions tried to set forth some more reasonable standards for that—which is completely within his discretion to do under the law—but a district court judge has already tried to set that aside and cause problems for the administration in enforcing that. Even though, as I said, it was within Sessions’ discretion to do that. So that’s in litigation now. And then also there’s the whole issue of human trafficking, which is an absolute abomination. Human trafficking is the fastest growing offense in the country, and it’s affecting our children, as well as children brought here from other countries. It’s become a loophole in the immigration laws because of the way the statute is written and protections that it affords and it’s actually become … The way it’s enforced has become a means of encouraging human trafficking, as opposed to discouraging it.
Mr. Jekielek: Can you unpack that a little bit. How does that law work? It actually encourages human trafficking?
Ms. Powell: Yes, because children that are brought here unaccompanied are now protected under our system as being human-trafficked. But that means that more and more are brought here. It’s actually encouraging people to bring them here and abandon them; the drug cartels are literally making billions of dollars every year from doing that. And everybody knows that the children are raped and sexually abused along the way. Mothers are literally giving their children birth control pills for the trip. It’s horrid. It’s just beyond the comprehension of people who don’t deal with and have anything to do with that world.
Mr. Jekielek: I understand that, if you’re not from Mexico or Canada, and you arrive as an unaccompanied minor, they are actually not allowed to send you back. Tell us a bit more, because I don’t get that.
Ms. Powell: Yeah. It makes no sense at all. We have to be able to return children to their parents in their countries. And we simply cannot become the orphanage for the world. Nor can we continue to allow this human-trafficking operation to flourish the way it is. We are simply feeding the drug cartels billions of dollars a year by doing it.
Mr. Jekielek: There’s also a provision when it comes to family units; from what I understand, there were record numbers of family units coming across the border in 2018. And there is also a provision that the authorities can’t detain children and families for more than 20 days during, let’s say, an asylum application. That makes it difficult to actually adjudicate whether these people deserve asylum or not, and then they’re let into the country. But only a very small number of these asylum claims, something like 9 percent, are actually deemed as worthy. How does that work?
Ms. Powell: Lawyers are going south of the border and encouraging people to make these asylum claims. They’re giving them the key words to use to trigger the asylum provisions, when they’re completely fraudulent claims. And that kicks in the protections of the statute, which is too overly broad in the first place. As I said, Attorney General Sessions was trying to put some constraints on that. That’s been shot down—wrongly. But we’ve just got to go back to tightening up those provisions because, as you said, more than 90 percent of the asylum claims are fraudulent. And those aren’t being prosecuted either. Now, in Robert Mueller’s investigation, any kind of false statement to anybody is being prosecuted as a federal felony. All of these thousands and thousands, tens of thousands, of fraudulent asylum claims are the same kind of false statement that supposedly Roger Stone made, and none of them are being prosecuted.
Ms. Jekielek: You mentioned a judge blocking the attempt that Jeff Sessions made, rolling back the protections and so forth. From what I understand, just in President Trump’s first year of office, over 20 nationwide injunctions from what people are calling activist judges and so forth. And many of them relate to immigration policies. To frame that, in the past, it was about 2.5 of these per year on average, in previous administrations. What’s your opinion of these injunctions?
Ms. Powell: It’s all part of the “resist” movement. The Left has just gone ballistic in filing and using the court system against this president in every way, shape, or form. And they’ve gone forum shopping to get these judges to make these rulings. The national injunction is unprecedented prior to the past few years. There should be no such thing as a national injunction. It makes no sense. Justice Thomas wrote a concurring decision, I think, in one of the recent cases talking about that. It takes away the authority of the other circuit and district courts, and a district judge’s jurisdiction doesn’t extend beyond his own district. So how they are making these national edicts, as I said on another show, they’re not kings. You know, if they could make a ruling for the entire nation, they’d be called kings. And they’re not. So that we’ve just got to stop that too; the Department of Justice can do a lot more on fighting that.
Mr. Jekielek: I don’t understand, and I think many of our viewers won’t understand. Let’s say that a regional judge makes a national ruling. How does that prevent the executive order which the judge ruled against from actually still being in effect?
Ms. Powell: Well, they just enter an order that says this applies across the country. But if I were the executive or in the Department of Justice, I would say I’m not applying this beyond your district. And I would let it be litigated in other districts, because one of the things that happens before the Supreme Court takes the case is you have what’s called a split in the circuits, because cases go up in other circuits. Often, other circuits decide things in different ways. Usually, the Supreme Court won’t even take a case until there’s what’s called a deep split in the circuits—like when several circuit courts have ruled one way on it and several other circuit courts have ruled the other way. Then, the Supreme Court will decide it. But the way these national edicts worked by these king judges, there would never be a split in the circuits, because one judge decides something for the whole country. One district judge, the lowest-level federal judge there is. It’s absurd.
Mr. Jekielek: Let’s call it a battle around immigration reform and border security; it’s actually shifting into the Judiciary. What do you expect to see in 2019?
Ms. Powell: More of the same. Just resist, resist, resist, which is not a healthy way for the country to function at all. The president was vested with these powers for a reason. Courts cannot decide immigration policy. There’s a provision in the United States code that gives the president the absolute authority to stop all immigration, if that’s what he decides is in the national interest. He can do that. In fact, I’ve done an article in The Daily Caller called “The President Has the Power to Stop All Immigration.” Invaders, immigrants—he can stop it all. And I would encourage him to use that authority and do it until we get the whole thing sorted out.
Mr. Jekielek: There’s a number of caravans as we’ve been hearing in the news coming up to America right now. We’ve discussed a number of different areas, but what do you think is the major contributing factor to the formation of these caravans and this repeated method?
Ms. Powell: They’re obviously an organized and funded effort. They’re being given buses to come here. There are food trucks and supplies along the way. It’s probably Mr. Soros and his assorted organizations funding it, [with] Alinsky-type tactics to overrun and tax all of our resources. And the real problem that people don’t understand is, that while Border Patrol resources are being diverted to take, literally take care of children and get them to hospitals and make sure they’re being taken care of as best we can, they are either Trojan horses or diversionary tactics, and real problems are coming in where people are not looking.
Mr. Jekielek: So you’re saying the illegals, the criminals, are basically using people that want to come across as immigrants as a diversion?
Ms. Powell: Yes, diversions and Trojan horses.
Mr. Jekielek: How does the Trojan horse come in?
Ms. Powell: Well, for one thing, people smuggle drugs in their bodies. But people don’t realize that. Oftentimes, the drug cartels are so evil they will make people swallow drugs in balloons, and then get them out on the other side. There also have been cases where drugs have been implanted in people’s bodies surgically and then removed on the other side. I mean there are all kinds of manners and means of using people as human mules—they call them—to bring drugs in knowingly or unknowingly. And oftentimes, the cartels will hold one of their family members hostage or something on the other side of the border until they get the drugs on this side and then the cycle just repeats.
Mr. Jekielek: What can the Supreme Court do in this sort of situation? There is a number of these cases coming up through the court system. Presumably, they’ll all eventually get to the Supreme Court. Can we expect to see that in 2019? And some rulings from that level?
Ms. Powell: I would hope so. I would hope the Supreme Court recognizes the power of the president and the attorney general to deal with these issues under the laws as written. Because that’s what it is. That’s the way it’s written.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s very startling in a sense to hear all this framed this way. There’s also a backlog of something like 800,000 cases in the immigration system, as we speak, which is really weighing down the system.
Ms. Powell: That’s why I think the president should simply stop absolutely all immigration except for the non-immigrant visas. There are multiple different kinds of immigration. There are immigrant visas, where people are actually going to come here and stay. And there are non-immigrant visas for students and also for people that are going to come here and work for a little bit and go back or whatever. So there are different kinds of visas but all immigration should be stopped, I believe, until we get all of this sorted out: the backlog gone, the fence built, a rational and reasonable immigration system in place. And that would give the backlog time to clear, time for new laws to be in place, so that we can have some sort of reasoned basis for pursuing a continuing immigration policy. Because right now, it’s [a mess].
Mr. Jekielek: How long would something like this take to actually sort things out?
Ms. Powell: Well, if everything were absolutely stopped, I think it would get done sooner rather than later. I think that would be a big incentive for the Democrats to come to the table and fix it.
Mr. Jekielek: This is one of the things that you don’t often hear—the president is obviously is very pro-immigration—just the right kind.
Ms. Powell: Right, and most of America is. I mean we love our lawful immigrants; they have contributed enormously to our society. Most of us wouldn’t be here at all were it not for lawful immigrants.
Mr. Jekielek: Is there any anything else you think is important to share about this issue?
Ms. Powell: Just to encourage and support the president in his efforts to straighten all of this out. Sometimes I feel like he is just so alone in his efforts to get it all worked out and to get the wall built and do what he knows needs to be done to protect the country. It’s a matter of national security—it truly is. I can’t emphasize that strongly enough. People do not realize what all is and can come across that border whenever it wants to. I mean we’re that far away from having suicide bombers in this country. It’s simply a miracle that we haven’t had any already.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s a testament to the hard work of law enforcement.
Ms. Powell: It is—to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and to our Border Patrol and to Homeland Security.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.