The growing crisis of thousands of unaccompanied minors flooding into the U.S from Mexican has revealed President Obama’s an immigration policy boomerang. He lamented the need for immigration reform with emphasis on amnesty while downplaying the calls for reinforced border security. However his political strategy of hoping that the emotional and humanitarian appeal of seeing thousands of children on the southern border would hasten the push for the liberal version of immigration reform, has backfired and come back around like a boomerang. It instead has justified an immigration measure he has vehemently opposed. That is, border security as a perquisite before any further immigration reform.
President Obama’s decision to avoid going to personally see the border crisis while he was in the Texas region attending fundraisers, speaks of his disregard to the border security issue. He has attended 393 fundraisers since his presidency compared to the 216 attended during the same time period by President G.W Bush during his tenure. It also speaks of his inability to act as an executive to propose viable solutions as he would rather to be in a perpetual campaign mode.
When pressured as to why he did not go to the border, he reverted to the same game plan of blaming republicans for not passing immigration reform and asking congress for billions of dollars to spend on areas that will not actually address the real causes of the issue. If he really feels failure to pass immigration reform is to blame, he could easily have passed one when he had an overwhelming majorities of Democrats in the House and Senate during his first term. Maybe some Democrats did not want immigration reform either and would rather wait to use it as a political tool to blame Republicans.
The president cannot with credibility blame Republicans for the border crisis when they have consistently said they are for immigration reform, but would rather start with border security. He also loses credibility because he and Democrats in congress have stonewalled such efforts. In addition, Republican have been proven right in their warnings that any reform without meaning full border security measures will encourage more people to enter the U.S as undocumented immigrants.
This point has been reinforced as he number of unaccompanied minors entering the U.S has spiked from about 8000 annually and is now climbing towards 60,000 after President Obama unilaterally took steps to modify immigration laws regarding undocumented immigrants brought in as minors. He ignored warnings about the effects of this law since 2011 from many including Texas Governor Rick Perry. This law does not apply to these new unaccompanied minors, but the perception purported in Central America is that if they reach the U.S, it will. President Obama unilateral actions to change parts of laws he does not like rather than to lead in getting bipartisan legislations done, further underscores the likelihood that he cannot be trusted to enact and enforce future laws.
Republicans however also need to expand and communicate what they are for in a wider U.S immigration policy. In addition to maintaining their stance on border security and why, they also need to work to dispel the perceptions that Republican are against immigration in general and cohesively lay out a plan about what happens after border security is achieved. This includes how they will address the millions of undocumented immigrants already here, since it is not feasible to deport everyone. Any suggestion that all current illegal immigrants should be deported would be not viable and would be political suicide. Also Republicans need to present a conservative immigration reform that adheres to their principles of rule of law and economic freedom, which both benefits America long term and keep the American dream alive to those who want to constructively be apart of our society, while strengthening national security.
The Obama immigration boomerang presents a win-win for Republicans not intended by Democrats. Republicans are in a position to do the right thing to solve an immigration issue such as addressing border security first, and also reap the political benefits as the country benefits with a true immigration reform to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Instead of first asking for new spending from Congress that would mostly just accommodate the influx at the border, President Obama should start by supporting efforts in Congress to change immigration laws to process all illegal immigrants in the same way current laws apply to illegal entrants from Mexico or Canada. This involves immediately sending back those who cross the border rather than the current law which allows entrants other than Mexicans to wait for a long hearing process where most normally just don’t show up for. It would serve as a warning and deterrence to those who carelessly send minors on a long dangerous journey from Central America to the U.S. and to the ‘coyote’ industry and drug traffickers that smuggle them.
Recently Jorge Ramon Hernandez, the senior representative of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, said at the talks with Vice President Joe Biden, “As long as U.S. immigration reform is not approved, the exodus of children to the United States will continue”. President Obama should protect the interests and integrity of U.S immigration laws by condemning such statements and efforts of countries to promote such activity and send a warning that there will retaliation in the form of reducing the foreign aid sent to these countries. There should be a firm message that foreign countries will not be allowed to dictate U.S immigration laws.
The perviousness of the U.S southern border and the reluctance on the President’s part to secure it, is also setting a stage for a crisis bigger than the illegal entry of minors and people seeking work. It is an invitation to be a gateway for terrorists from the Middle East to use the same avenue to enter the U.S and carry out attacks. It has been under reported, but there is a link established among Iran, Syria and Venezuela to funnel radical elements into the Americas, which I detailed in an article in 2010. As a multiple of crises unfold in the Middle East such as the take over of parts of Iraq and Syria by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) who is determined to attack America, the Syrian civil war and continuous efforts to use children as suicide bombers, the prospects or terror arriving on American doorsteps via its back yard in the region is a real one.
The current crisis on the border presents a “you can’t eat your cake and still have it” scenario for advocates who just want a process to deal with the millions of undocumented immigrants here. Such advocates should not expect a process to address that issue without expecting that there should be concrete measures to deter and establish consequences to new comers who want to violate U.S immigration laws, such as entering the U.S illegally. Ironically, the Obama immigration boomerang presents a situation for those advocates and his supporters who want immigration reform to address the status of undocumented immigrants. That is, to faster deal with that issue it will be wise to actually support the Republican position of border security first.