The growing crisis of thousands of unaccompanied minors flooding into the U.S from Mexico has revealed President Obama’s 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 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, Republicans have been proven right in their warnings that any reform without meaningful border security measures will encourage more people to enter the U.S. as undocumented immigrants.
This point has been reinforced as the 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’s 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 Republicans 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.
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