Yesterday, Obama requested $3.7 billion from Congress to address the border crisis. The bulk of the funds ($1.8 billion) will go to HHS to better care for the tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American children who have arrived in recent months, and another $1.1 billion to Immigration and Customs Enforcment to detain, prosecute, and deport undocumented families. But the plan is already catching heat from both sides:
By sending the request to Congress, Republicans, who are outraged over Obama’s immigration policies, will now have an opportunity to express their fury in must-sign legislation, possibly attaching policy riders or demanding budget cuts elsewhere. “The Appropriations Committee and other Members, including the working group on the border crisis led by Rep. Kay Granger, will review the White House proposal,” Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said in a statement. “The Speaker still supports deploying the National Guard to provide humanitarian support in the affected areas—which this proposal does not address.” And liberals are organizing to block the White House efforts to rewrite laws to make the deportation of child migrants from Central America less cumbersome.
And so you see that the GOP is so consumed with scoring political points against the president that they are prepared to allow what they have spent so long denouncing as outrageous. We have long known this. The animating spirit of the GOP these days is revenge – not advancing conservative policy options, not addressing an immigration crisis they have been hyperventilating about for weeks and months: just finding an occasion to stick it to the imposter president. Allahpundit therefore theorizes about what nefarious scheme Obamnesty is really up to:
The Orwellian irony there is that amnesty fans are pounding the table about due process for minors caught entering the U.S. illegally when, in many cases, those same minors won’t end up availing themselves of the process that’s due. The point isn’t to make sure they get a hearing before being deported, it’s to create a pretext that allows them to remain in the U.S. for the time being so that they can quietly disappear into the population while supposedly waiting for their hearing.
“Due process” is, in other words, being used as a tool to abet the breakdown in process, facilitating illegal immigration. And the chief executive is happy to let that go on, at least for now. Instead of pursuing summary deportation, he’s going to ask Congress for $3.8 billion in extra resources, nearly double his initial amount, to “process” all the new cases. Even though, as we all understand, many of them will end up going unprocessed, by design.
But from the left, the criticism is that Obama is being too tough on the children, many of whom likely qualify as refugees. Josh Voorhees, for instance, argues against Obama’s theory that expediting deportations will deter more kids from making the trip across the border:
Obama says that if parents knew for certain that their children would be sent home almost as soon as they arrived on U.S. soil, then they’d decide against sending their kids trekking across the Mexican desert in the first place. The president is betting that these families are choosing to have the children come—for reasons ranging from better jobs to reuniting with family—and not because they believe they have no other choice. And that’s where the president’s wrong, according to the plan’s critics.
“These parents and kids say that they understand how horrible the trips will be—that they might be robbed of their money or sexually abused, that they’ll be hungry and might die,” says Karen Tumlin, the managing attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “And even after these kids get apprehended, they say they’d do it all again because of the violence and conditions in their home countries.” She and her fellow advocates argue that a parent who’s willing to pay to send her child with a “coyote” to the United States has already decided that doing anything—no matter how great the risk or low the odds—is better than doing nothing.
And William Finnegan fears that this approach will end up overlooking legitimate asylum claims:
The most disturbing part of the Administration’s response to the crisis at the border has been a suggestion by the President that, in order to fast-track deportations of young people from Central America, he might seek changes to a 2008 law meant to protect the rights and the welfare of trafficked children. Yes, there are a great many children, and the political optics are terrible for Obama. And yes, many of the newly arrived children will probably end up being deported. But others may have a valid claim to asylum—they come, after all, from some of the most violent societies in the world. All of them have a right to counsel and to a fair hearing. It’s called due process.
In any case, Waldman reminds us that this problem is largely outside of American control:
The trouble we’re having now is really two problems coming together: an increase in the number of children from Central America making this journey, and a system that doesn’t have the resources to handle them once they get here. A number of conditions are combining to create the former: desperate poverty and violence in the three countries most of these kids are coming from (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras), false rumors that children who come today will get to stay under the administration’s Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals policy (which actually only applies to people who came to the US before June 2007), and the more accurate belief that if you make it to the US you might get to stay anyway, at least for a while until your deportation hearing. … [I]n the long run, the chief driver of undocumented immigration is out of our control. The reason we aren’t faced with hundreds of thousands of Canadians sneaking over our northern border is that life in Canada is quite pleasant. People come from the south because the difficult and dangerous prospect of making it to America and then trying to build a life once you get here seems less frightening than staying where they are. And there’s only so much we can do about that
Offering an alternative solution, the Bloomberg editors argue that “to stem the flow of migrants, the U.S. must establish — and help to pay for — deterrence programs in Central American nations”:
One pilot program in Guatemala, for example, gives children repatriated from the U.S. a safe place to stay and provides education and job training. Beefed-up services at U.S. embassies and consulates could also help. Senators Charles Schumer and John McCain, a Democrat and a Republican, have suggested requiring claims for refugee status to be made at U.S. embassies in Central America rather than on U.S. soil. The White House has called for only $300 million for international programs. (The 2008 law under which the administration is operating specifically called for programs to assist in reintegrating and resettling victims of trafficking.) The more children can find services and hope in their own countries, the fewer will be tempted to make the dangerous trek north.
(Photo: Miguel Hernandez (R), an immigrant rights activist, stands among anti-immigration activists outside of the U.S. Border Patrol Murrieta Station on July 7, 2014 in Murrieta, California. Immigration protesters have staged rallies in front of the station for about a week in response to a wave of undocumented immigrant children caught along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas and transported to the Murrieta facility while awaiting deportation proceedings. By Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)