Politics & Policy

The ‘Man-Caused Disaster’

(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
The child-migrant crisis is largely attributable to one man: President Barack Obama.

The flood of underage — and non-underage — illegal immigrants from Central America coming across the border in Texas is, to paraphrase a former Obama administration official, a “man-caused disaster.” The man who caused it, more than anyone else, is Barack Obama.

Speaking at political fundraisers in Dallas and Austin last week — he refused to do a “photo-op” on the border, first things first — Obama placed the blame on House Republicans for not having passed a comprehensive immigration bill as the Democrat-controlled Senate did in June 2013.

But it wasn’t only Republicans who failed to pass such a bill. House Democrats didn’t pass one either in 2009 or 2010, when they had a bigger majority than Republicans have had in 80 years.

House Democrats’ priorities were the stimulus package, Obamacare, and cap-and-trade legislation to address supposed global warming. They passed all three despite negative polling — and even though cap-and-trade had no chance in the Senate.

In the short run, Barack Obama paid no political price for the Democrats’ decision to sidestep immigration. The only time he got pressed on the issue was a grilling by Univision’s Jorge Ramos in September 2012. Obama carried 71 percent of Hispanic votes in November.

But he missed the chance to pass comprehensive immigration reform — on which, unlike the stimulus, Obamacare, and cap-and-trade, he might have had significant Republican support — by his own choice.

The second thing that led to the flood of underage illegals was Obama’s declaration in June 2012, five months before the election, that he would not enforce immigration laws against so-called “DREAMers,” young adults brought over the border illegally as children who also met certain conditions.

This was a popular move not only among Hispanics but among voters generally. The idea of deporting people who have graduated from high school, are going to college, or are working or serving in the military is unappealing to almost everyone.

Obama complained then that the Republican House failed to pass a DREAM Act. But his announcement that he would not faithfully execute the law, in a systematic way involving thousands of people, has had reverberations leading to the current crisis.

One is that House Republicans are unwilling to pass any immigration legislation that gives him discretion on how to enforce the law. They seem to be bridling at passing the $3.7 billion package he’s seeking to address the problem for which he’s largely responsible — the underage-illegal flood.

They want a provision adding Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador as countries to which underage illegals can promptly be deported. Currently the William Wilberforce Anti-Trafficking Act of 2008 provides exceptions only for Canada and Mexico.

That made sense in legislation designed to protect relatively small numbers of minors brought into the country by sex traffickers. It doesn’t make sense when very large numbers of underage migrants come in with the apparent intention of remaining here permanently.

Liberals want to treat the underage illegals as something like political refugees, fleeing from countries with horrifying high crime rates. That means letting them stay here indefinitely.

That seems to be what is happening. The young people are being shipped to relatives and friends and told to come to immigration hearings when they can be held. Few probably ever will.

There seems little doubt that this is understood in Central America. There wouldn’t be such a large surge of people crossing the border illegally if people had not gotten the idea that they had permisos to do so.

The flood at the border has seriously undermined the argument that legalization will not trigger another rush of illegal immigration, as the 1986 legislation did. And it has undermined as well those in both parties who argue that this administration can be trusted to secure the border.

So the debate about immigration inevitably moves away from legalization and toward deportation and enforcement.

All this moves the focus even further away from the immigration reform that the country really needs and that the 2013 Senate bill does only a little to address: the need for more high-skill immigrants.

Canada and Australia have immigration laws that reserve most places for those with high skills. We have been reserving more places for reunification of extended families.

Texas governor Rick Perry warned Obama two years ago that the current flood would occur. Obama paid no heed.

As an old saying of mine goes, nothing is free in politics, but there is some question as to when you pay the price. Obama is paying now.

— Michael Barone is senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner. © 2014 The Washington Examiner. Distributed by Creators.com

Michael Barone is a senior political analyst for the Washington Examiner, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and longtime co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. © 2018 Creators.com

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Hillary Ruins the Plan

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the first in a series of excerpts.  There really was a collusion plot. It really did target our election system. It absolutely sought to usurp our capacity for ... Read More
Religion

Another Pop-Culture Christian Loses His Faith

It’s happened again. For the second time in three weeks, a prominent (at least in Evangelical circles) Christian has renounced his faith. In July, it was Josh Harris, a pastor and author of the mega-best-selling purity-culture book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This month, it’s Hillsong United songwriter and ... Read More
Culture

Max Boot’s Dishonesty

Before yesterday, my primary criticism of the Washington Post’s Max Boot was political in nature. As I wrote in a recent book review, I found it regrettable that Boot’s opposition to the president had not prevented him from “succumbing reactively to Trump’s cult of personality, or from making Trump the ... Read More
Elections

A Brief History of Election Meddling

Editor’s note: Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book is Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency. This is the second in a series of excerpts. ‘The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” Thus spoke President Barack Obama just a couple of weeks before ... Read More
World

The End of Hong Kong as We Know It

The protests in Hong Kong have been going on for more than four months now, and no matter how the current crisis concludes in the coming days or weeks, it will mark the end of Hong Kong as we know it. The protests started in response to an extradition bill that was proposed by the city’s Beijing-backed ... Read More