For the last couple of weeks, President Obama has been doing virtually nothing about the border crisis and giving out mixed signals about his intentions. The mixed signals are themselves intentional, meant to throw a few fish to each side while he goes about trying to achieve whatever his real goals might be.
An educated guess at the latter would be (a) placate his base, which very much includes advocates of virtually open borders (b) convince the rest of America that he’s really trying very hard to solve the problem and wants to deport most or all of the illegal newcomers (c) send an overt message to Central America that the influx must stop, but a covert one that it can continue (d) say it’s the Republicans’ fault; and (e) make sure most of these people stay and ultimately become Democratic voters.
That’s not so hard, is it? And mixed messages, as well as delay, suit the purpose quite admirably.
Meanwhile, why doesn’t Congress act? It doesn’t need Obama to do so. Why doesn’t at least the Republican-controlled House pass a bill repealing the 2008 law that treats Central American illegal immigrants with kid gloves? One representative is attempting to do exactly that, as early as next week:
An Arizona Congressman is set to propose legislation that would allow federal authorities to immediately return Central American illegal child immigrants apprehended at the U.S. border back to their home countries.
U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon will introduce the bill early this week, according to the Arizona Republic.
If passed, the bill would undo a part of a 2008 law that requires U.S. Customs and Border Protection to turn over unaccompanied immigrant children from countries that do not border the U.S. to the Department of Health and Human Services.
“I think the first step to fix it is to give our CBP guys the authority to immediately repatriate them back to their countries,” Salmon told the Arizona Republic.
But what about the bill’s chances? Without the Republican leadership behind it, will it even clear the House (and of course Harry Reid can easily just ignore it in the Senate)? Boehner has been mouthing support of “comprehensive” (i.e. what the Democrats want) immigration for quite some time, so there’s no real reason to trust him. However, oddly enough, it was in late June, when the immigration crisis was already heating up, that Boehner empowered Salmon by appointing him to a group making recommendations on what to do about the situation:
“Let’s face it: I’ve been a thorn in leadership’s side,” says Arizona Republican Rep. Matt Salmon, sitting at his desk in the Rayburn House Office Building.
Earlier that day, Salmon had just been named by Speaker John Boehner to a special “working group” on the crisis at the southern U.S. border, where tens of thousands of unaccompanied children are streaming into the country with hopes that President Obama will grant them amnesty.
Salmon is the most conservative member of the new group, and his selection by Boehner is surprising, to say the least, given that the Arizonan has been a leading critic of House leadership.
“Probably nobody was more shocked than me, but I was pleasantly surprised,” Salmon says.
What does this move mean? We can only guess at Boehner’s motives and his true intentions. Is the crisis making him see some opportunity for support for what ought to be the Republican point of view (expedited deportations)? Or is this just a way to make it seem as though he’s taking things seriously when he has no plan to do so?
Harry Reid’s position, on the other hand, is no mystery.
It’s not as though what Americans want is a mystery, either. Even before this current crisis, they’ve been clear for many years that their priority is to seal the border first. It would have been a winning hand for Republicans if they had strongly emphasized that’s what they’re for, and one would think that was in their own interests too. But it hasn’t been that way for the most part, almost certainly because their money comes from businesses who want the illegal immigration flood to continue. Thus, both parties (Democrats more than Republicans, but both parties) seem to be conspiring to thwart the will of the American people.
And the people are well aware of that: